Forest Fires in Sharps Chapel

Wild Land Fires Are a Real Threat to Us All

Last Sunday I was outside working and a fire truck went by around 2:20 in the afternoon.  And then another one.  And another one.  All tolled — 8-9 fire trucks went by, numerous rescue squad units and a bull dozer!  Jim couldn’t stand it any longer and jumped in his truck to find the action.

When he got back, he told me it was a forest fire at the end of Walleye Point Rd. (on the south side of Big Ridge, east of Norris Shores (see map)).  He couldn’t see much, but he ran into some friends, Mark and Dale, there doing the same thing.

Walleye Point Rd. Sharps Chapel TN 2014 Forest Fire in Sharps Chapel TN 2014 Forest Fire in Sharps Chapel TN 2014 Forest Fire in Sharps Chapel TN 2014 Forest Fire in Sharps Chapel TN - Bull Dozer Fire FightingI saw the trucks returning later that night, so I figured it was under control, but it wasn’t until the next day that I got more details from a friend at Sharps Chapel Elementary where I volunteer to read to the kids in the library.

My friend said that it started out as a brush fire, but spread quickly and there was concern about three homes that were being threatened due to its close proximity.

I was dying to see the extent of the damage, but I wasn’t able to get out there until today to get some pictures.  I had never been out that far on Walleye Point Rd.  It branches into 3 forks and it was the middle fork where the fire was — a narrow, one-car paved road that follows the ridge to the furthest point.

Evidence of the fire showed that it had progressed passed the brush stage and was engulfing the trees.  And, yes, the houses were a stone’s throw from evidence of the fire.  The bull dozer, that I mentioned previously, was trucked in by the Forestry Service and used to help make a fire break by pushing away debris (see the last photo).  I was told it was difficult to do as the banks were very steep in most places.

Firewise Community Initiatives

Nearby Norris Shores is a Firewise community.  I see a sign near their entrance when I walk there that states their involvement for the last 5+ years.  They hold annual meetings at their pavilion near their marina.  Firewise is a nationwide initiative promoting community action and homeowner responsibility.   Do you have one in your community?  Perhaps you should start one or attend one nearby.  I hope to be able to go to the one at Norris Shores since it is so close.

Burn Permits Are Required in TN

Being from Ohio, it seems counter-intuitive that this would be the prime season for forest fires.  I would have thought July-August when the hot summer just dries everything out.  But in fact, burning permits are required here in TN from October 15 – May 15.  The burning permits are free and you can get them by phone (for Union Co., call (865) 278-3348)) or online.

According to the BurnSafeTN website:  Burning permits focus attention on the safe use of fire. From October 15 through May 15, anyone starting an open-air fire within 500 feet of a forest, grassland, or woodland must by law secure a burning permit from the Division of Forestry. Permits are not required for burning in containers such as a metal barrel with a ½” mesh screen cover.

Other than when I was a child and lived on a farm, I’ve always lived in a subdivision in the suburbs.  But here, we have a huge forest within 20 feet of our house that stretches for miles.  The possibility of a forest fire is real.

Steps to Reduce the Ignitability of Your Home

The following links contain information that will take you a few minutes to read but can save your home from loss due to fire.   For many of us that have moved here from elsewhere… we are not in Kansas anymore.  Be firewise.

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