BANDY CREEK, Tenn. | The Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area has implemented a complete, temporary ban on all open fires amid worsening drought conditions.
A similar ban was also announced for the BSF’s sister park, Obed Wild & Scenic River.
Superintendent Niki S. Nicholas announced the ban Wednesday morning, saying that ongoing dry weather has led to an increase in wildfire potential.
“Open fire” refers to any flame not immediately extinguishable or controllable. It includes any form of wood- or charcoal-based fire, even in established fire rings.
The Big South Fork NRRA had previously implemented a backcountry fire ban, but was still allowing fires at campgrounds and picnic areas.
Now, however, even those areas are off-limits to fire — which means no campfires or charcoal grill usage at Bandy Creek Campground or similar developed areas of the park.
The only exception, according to Nicholas, is the use of portable stoves that use pressurized gas, liquid fuel, propane or alcohol. Usage of those stoves must be monitored at all times and fully extinguished after use.
Nicholas said that the ban will only be lifted after sufficient rainfall has been received and soil moisture has increased significantly.
There are currently no wildfires burning within the Big South Fork NRRA or the Obed WSR, but there have been a number of other wildfires throughout the region.
The largest fire so far is a major wildfire that is currently burning in the Smokey Creek area of southeastern Scott County. The fire has reached more than 2,600 acres in size, though the TN Division of Forestry reported Wednesday that it is 80% contained.
The Division of Forestry is not currently issuing burning permits anywhere in Tennessee east of Nashville. That moratorium will extend through at least Thursday. A burn permit is required for outdoor burning in Tennessee from Oct. 15 through May 15.