Update: Southeast Wildfires Continue

Written By: Samantha Burgess

The wildfires across the Southeast, including Tenn. and Ga. are continuing to affect the quality of the air and of the lives of those affected.

The Chattanoogan reported that 21-year-old Andrew Lewis was arrested with arson charges on Nov. 10th. He was charged with setting fires on Cagle and Smith Mountain near Blue Sewanee Rd. in Dunlap, Tenn. He’s also charged with vandalism and setting fire to personal property costing $250,000.

The fire on Signal Mountain around Flipper Bend has burned 1,000 acres and is 90% contained Mowbray Mountain has burned 700 acres and is 70% contained and a newer fire on Poe Rd. has burned 500 acres and is 40 % contained as of Nov. 14th.

“The Poe Road fire is just our biggest problem and that’s just due to steep country. They’re definitely having hard times getting down in there. They can’t get dozers to them”, said Jason Longfellow with the Florida Forest Service in a News 12 article.

Forestry Services from several states, including Florida are doing there best to put out the fires in Tenn. and Ga. There strongest need is for hand crews to go into the blaze and manually deal with it, but they’ve only had a few extra crews come to their aid.

“The unfortunate thing for the southeast region is that there significant amount of wildfires in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama. So all the resources from like Florida you know they’re going to those fires. And now we’re getting resources from out west…Nevada, California, Oregon”, said Julie Allen with Florida Forest Service (News 12).

The Tennessee Forestry Division advised those living on Boston Branch on Signal Mountain to be cautious because they aren’t safe and had firefighters spray fire around the homes in that area as a precaution. They also advised the Hamilton County Office of Emergency Management to evacuate residents who live on Arnat Drive and Bonelia Circle on Mowbray Mountain. A safe house for those residents is available at Mowbray Presbyterian Church at 2317 Mowbray Pike. Residents on Little Bend road were also evacuated (Chattanoogan).

While the drought in the South is adding fuel to the large amount of wildfires, authorities suspect that most of them were cases of arson. Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley announced a $5,000 reward on Nov. 9th for anyone who provides information leading to the arrest and conviction of whoever’s responsible for setting wildfires. He hopes this will help identify anyone purposely setting the fires.

Other than Andrew Lewis, news of other suspects have not been released in Tenn.