Note: This story was updated at 7 p.m. Nov. 17.
CLAXTON—Firefighters contained a brush fire on a ridge off Yarnell Road in Claxton on Wednesday night, authorities said.
The Tennessee Division of Forestry said the fire burned seven acres, and arson was the cause.
It was in a wooded area just outside south Clinton, said Dusty Sharpe, assistant chief of the Claxton Volunteer Fire Department. It was reported at about 6 p.m. Wednesday.
Most of the firefighters came down from the fire at about 9:40 p.m. Among those who responded were firefighters from Andersonville Volunteer Fire Department, Claxton Volunteer Fire Department, Clinton Fire Department, Marlow Volunteer Fire Department, and the Tennessee Division of Forestry.
Sharpe said the fire was contained, but it had a few hot spots that would continue to burn the next few hours. There was no damage to any structures, he said.
The Tennessee Division of Forestry brought two bulldozers to the Yarnell Road fire to clear fire lines, and they set back fires to help contain the fire. The state firefighters reportedly came from Campbell County to help with the Anderson County fire. Yarnell Road connects Clinton Highway in south Clinton to East Wolf Valley Road in Anderson County.
Sharpe said there have been a few small brush fires in Claxton, but the Wednesday night fire was a bigger one.
Firefighters have been working long hours across Tennessee battling anywhere from about 50 to 90 fires at a time this month. About half of the fires have been determined to be arsons. Six fires in north Anderson County burned more than 4,000 acres.
On Tuesday, 100 firefighters from the West Coast arrived in Knoxville, where they will receive their assignments and mobilize to several Southern states to battle active wildfires caused by the ongoing drought.
Also on Tuesday, investigators from the Tennessee Department of Agriculture’s Agriculture Crime Unit, along with authorities in Sequatchie and Monroe Counties and the State Fire Marshal’s office, announced they had arrested two people suspected in separate arson cases, and the state’s arson reward fund grows. The Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation and the Tennessee Forestry Association have committed donations to the fund. Now, people may receive as much as $2,500 for a tip that leads to an arson arrest and conviction, state officials said.
The arson hotline is 1-800-762-3017 and is answered 24 hours a day. You can also report arson activity to the TDA Ag Crime Unit at 1-844-AGCRIME (1-844-242-7463). Callers may remain anonymous.
Here are the arrests announced this week:
- Matthew Ryan Wallace, age 27 of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, is accused of igniting a wildfire along Standifer Grant Road in Sequatchie County on Monday. He is charged with setting fire to personal property or land, a Class E felony, punishable with up to 6 years incarceration and a fine of up to $3,000.
- Monroe County Deputies arrested Charles Edward Martin, age 50 of Madisonville, Tennessee, on Monday for deliberately setting a fire along Gamble Road. He is charged with setting fire to personal property or land, reckless burning and resisting arrest.
So far this year, about 1,238 wildfires have burned across the state. Almost 50 percent of those are suspected arsons.
Due to the ongoing drought and destructive wildfires, Governor Bill Haslam has ordered a regional burn ban for East Tennessee. An Agriculture Commissioner’s burn ban is in effect for two counties outside of that region, Sumner and Robertson. A violation of a burn ban is punishable as a Class A misdemeanor, which carries a fine of $2,500 and/or up to 11 months 29 days in jail.
Current county burn bans and wildfire safety tips and information can be found on the TDA Division of Forestry’s wildfire prevention website at www.burnsafetn.org. That website also includes links to a fire map and a list of active fires, as well as information on new fires.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
See previous forest fire stories in our Police and Fire section here.
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