Wildfires trigger air quality alert through Middle Tennessee

Smoke from a wildfire in Soddy Daisy, Tennessee. (Photo: WKRN)
Smoke from a wildfire in Soddy Daisy, Tennessee. (Photo: WKRN)

 

SODDY DAISY, Tenn. (WKRN) – Wildfires across the state have triggered a code orange air quality alert for Middle Tennessee.

The alert means active, older adults and children, as well as people with respiratory diseases such as asthma, should limit their time outside.

Also on Monday, Gov. Bill Haslam declared a regional burn ban on 51 counties. Read about it here.

As of Monday evening, there were 67 fires across the state, eight of them considered “major.”

  • Neddy Mountain (Cocke) 1,007 acres, 70% contained
  • White Oak Circle (Morgan) 2,432 acres, 0% contained
  • Flippers Bend (Hamilton) 1000 acres, 90% contained
  • Poe Rd. (Hamilton) 550 acres, 40% contained
  • Mowbray (Hamilton) 800 acres, 70% contained
  • Smith Mountain (Sequatchie) 960 acres, 100% contained
  • Bench Bluff (Bledsoe) 1,400 acres, 100% contained
  • Cliff Tops (Marion) 80 acres, 100% contained

In Hamilton County, the poor visibility and air quality around Signal Mountain led emergency responders to ground their helicopters.

Pilots couldn’t even see the nearby airport and had to fly to Nashville. It has made it very difficult for responders to make tactical decisions on how to fight the fires.

“There are a bunch of bluffs, so we have to go by maps. We have to actually send people to take a look at it and that can, decisions can take days if you don’t have aircraft to take a look over something,” said Jason Longfellow, with the field operations team.

The Brentwood Fire Department was also called to help battle a fire out in East Tennessee.

Residents News 2 spoke with Monday said it’s getting harder to breathe as the smoke continues to fill the sky.

“The response has been very overwhelming and encouraging, from what I’m hearing from firefighters coming in from all parts of the country–Oregon, Nevada, Florida. We are getting a wonderful response and help from those areas,” said resident Mary Jane Lee.

“[The smoke] in the house and we have been running air filters in different rooms to try to help cope with that type of thing, but yeah, it has been pretty intense,” she added.

The air quality alert remains in effect until midnight.