PETROS—A few embers and smoke remained on a mountaintop just north of Oliver Springs in Morgan County on Friday as a Tennessee Division of Forestry crew headed out for another fire reported in nearby Roane County, state officials said.
The firefighters, led by crew boss Jason O’Shell, worked the day building fire lines and backfiring to keep the Morgan County fire from spreading in an area frequented by four-wheelers, the Tennessee Department of Agriculture said. The crew was helped by a federal fire crew from western states.
Crews have been battling two blazes this week north of Oliver Springs, near Petros. The two fires have been about 12-16 miles northwest of Oak Ridge.
One fire, the Bald Knob Road fire, has been roughly east and northeast of Petros near the Anderson County-Morgan County line, in mountains east of Highway 62 and south of Highway 116. Crews first responded to that fire on Sunday. Since then, it has grown to 1,173 acres. It’s an arson, and it’s 100 percent contained, the Tennessee Department of Agriculture’s Division of Forestry said Friday afternoon.
The fire had scorched down to Petros, and crews appeared to set back fires to contain it, keeping it away from Petros and homes on the north side of Petros on Wednesday evening.
No smoke was visible from that fire from Highway 62 or from a short section of Highway 116 at about noon Friday.
The second fire, the Little Brushy fire, is south of Petros, on a ridge behind Petros-Joyner School near the intersection of Highway 62 and Highway 116. That fire, which grew to 260 acres, is maybe five miles south of the Bald Knob Road fire. It’s also an arson, and it’s 100 percent contained, the Tennessee Division of Forestry said Friday afternoon.
The Little Brushy fire is above homes and businesses along Highway 62, and it was reported on Wednesday morning. It was emitting much less smoke on Friday than it had been on Wednesday.
Also Friday, the Tennessee Division of Forestry reported that the Beech Grove Road fire in Anderson County was 327 acres and 100 percent contained.
State crews reported 66 actives fires on Friday that have burned 25,892 acres. State crews, with help from local and out-of-state firefighters, have been battling anywhere from about 50 to 90 fires at a time in Tennessee this month as a drought persists in the Southeast. About half of the fires have been arsons.
Seven fires in Anderson County have burned more than 4,000 acres, mostly in mountainous north Anderson County. At least six of those fires have been arsons, according to state records.
The National Weather Service in Morristown is forecasting that rains are possible next week.
“A slow-moving upper level storm system will begin to impact the region during the early to middle part of next week,” the National Weather Service said. “Good chances for some beneficial rains will exist late Monday through Wednesday evening.”
There could be a widespread total rainfall of between two to three inches over the areas hardest hit by the drought, forecasters said. There could be more rain along the mountains, the National Weather Service said.
It’s not clear if that would be enough to help firefighters. They’ve said the previous light rains haven’t helped. But the last rainfall, on Wednesday night, was less than about 0.1 inches in East Tennessee, much less than the few inches possible in this forecast.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
See a fire location map by the Tennessee Division of Forestry here.
See a list of active fires here.
See a map of Petros, which is north of Oak Ridge on Highway 62, here.
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