Brush fire spreads to neighbors' yards

KINGSPORT, Tenn. - The windy conditions caused fire departments to warn against burning outdoors on Sunday, but many people already had a burn permit.

It made for a busy day for fire crews as several fires got out of control.

Bobby Godsey went outside to see the field behind his house on fire. "I could see flames 10 to 15 feet tall shooting up and they were about 15 feet from my fence line," Godsey told us.

His neighbor was burning trash and brush on Rutledge Rd. in Kingsport, but the wind picked up and carried it across three fields. Every time the wind blew the flames got higher, Godsey said. "I came out side and saw all kinds of smoke," he told News 5.

There is a bare spot in the field behind Godsey's house where the fire tore through it.

He told us it spread about 400 yards in less than half an hour.

The Warrior's Path Volunteer Fire Department started fighting the fire in Godsey's yard first because his house was so close. He told us he even watered down the side of his house because part of it is cedar and very flammable.

The fire department needed two brush trucks and four fire engines, plus rakes and shovels, to put the fire out, said fire chief Ben Wexler. "Here we had several large hay bales that were on fire and a lot of thick underbrush, so what we do is take the brush rake and we chop those up," said Wexler.

They were helped by the Sullivan County Volunteer Fire Department and the Sullivan West Volunteer Fire Department.

Wexler told us there were wind gusts up to 35 miles per hour on Sunday that caused the fire to get out of control and accelerate.

We're told even though the fire was started as a controlled burn on some rocks, the grass around the area was dry, fueling the fire. "Water the surrounding area," Wexler advises. "You can make sure the grassy area where you're burning in is green grass so that it doesn't spread. The biggest thing on days like today is just be aware of the wind and probably just don't burn."

He told us there were at least two other similar fires on Sunday afternoon.

We also spoke to the Bristol, Tennessee Fire Rescue squad Sunday about outdoor fire safety. They recommend using a metal drum to burn debris in to keep the wind from picking anything up.

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