Tennessee wildfire season starts Sunday

(Courtesy: Tennessee Department of Agriculture)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – Tennessee forestry officials say outdoor burning permits will be required as the state heads into wildfire season.

The Department of Agriculture Division of Forestry says in a news release that the wildfire season runs from Sunday until May 15.

Burn permits are issued when conditions are conducive to safe burning. Permits are issued free of charge.

PHOTOS: Wildfires in East Tennessee

Drought conditions and hurricane-force winds last November contributed to a wildfire in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park that killed 14 people and caused up to $2 billion damage.

Burning without a permit is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a fine. Wildfires caused by arson are a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison and $10,000 in fines.

Click here for complete coverage on the Sevier County wildfires.