Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam has issued a proclamation declaring a regional ban on burning in 51 counties in response to the ongoing drought and destructive wildfires throughout Middle and East Tennessee. – <http://www.tn.gov/news/46738#sthash.zfbDcayz.dpuf>.
The Governor’s regional burn ban applies to open-air burning and includes a prohibition of campfires and burning of brush, vegetation, and construction debris.
Generally, the burn ban does NOT apply to cooking grills and other similar lighted devices that are well established in a confined, protected area away from woodlands.
Please keep in mind that the disposal of hot grill ashes CAN be a fire hazard. In all cases, grill ashes should be allowed to completely cool or be saturated with water before disposal.
“A fire pit area, even if it’s lined with bricks or metal, we ask that you don’t burn,” Capt. D.J. Corcoran, with the Knoxville Fire Department, said. “That’s an open flame, and embers can seep up into the airway.”
Using gas and barbecue grills for making food is okay, but please make sure it is contained and fully extinguished when finished.
“Move those grills at least 10 to 15 foot away from any structures, any overhead trees and away from any dry vegetation on the ground,” Corcoran said. “Ask you that you sweep out an area on the concrete or asphalt.”
The same is true for turkey fryers, with Thanksgiving approaching, but you should place it on a concrete surface 15-20 feet away from any structures. Backyard fire pits not used for cooking are not permitted.
Indoor fireplaces are also allowed, but please ensure your chimney has been recently cleaned and there’s a cap on top, to keep any embers from floating into the air, which could possibly land in and ignite dry vegetation.
Officials caution smokers about tossing cigarettes outside of their vehicles. Those lit cigarettes can blow into debris along the roadside and start a fire.
Common sense is the best defense. And when in doubt, do without.