NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — As drought-stressed forests burn across much of the South — including a blaze scorching a Manhattan-sized area of north Georgia — some traditional outdoor activities are now banned. Starting campfires, lighting fireworks, smoking cigarettes, even parking a car off-road is prohibited, for fear that a hot tailpipe could ignite dry leaves below.
The Tennessee Valley Authority issued a burn ban Tuesday on its public lands across Tennessee and in parts of Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina and Virginia. The authority said its ban applies to anything that might produce an open flame.
Gov. Bill Haslam, meanwhile, banned outdoor burning in more than half of Tennessee’s counties through December 15.
In Alabama, Fire Marshal Scott Pilgreen said state officers are investigating two of nearly 1,100 statewide wildfires as possible arson. No arrests have been made, but officers have issued misdemeanor citations for allegedly violated the statewide no-burn order.
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal has banned the ignition of all fireworks in much of the state due to the wildfire risk.
Fire officials said the largest active wildfire in the South has now burned more than 19,000 acres in the north Georgia mountains — an area larger than New York’s Manhattan.
North Carolina’s largest fire — the Tellico Fire burning through the state’s western mountains — has charred about 13,700 acres, or about the same amount of land as the island of Bermuda, fire managers said.
U.S. Forest Service spokesman Adam Rondeau has said the agency is tracking wildfires that have burned a total of 80,000 acres across the South.
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