April 19, 2012 -
The City of Knoxville made arrangements this afternoon with the Tennessee Department of Environment & Conservation to haul debris from Shamrock Organic to further help firefighters extinguish the core of a mulch fire that began Sunday afternoon.
The smoke is wood smoke, and does not appear to contain toxins, but does contain tiny particulate matter, which can irritate existing heart and lung problems.
The public is asked not to use lawn mowing or other gas combustion home equipment to avoid adding additional pollutants to the air.
Presently, all open burning is banned in Knox County. No burn permits will be issued until further notice.
This event will continue changing day-to-day depending on weather conditions and progress on extinguishing the fire.
Please consult the maps at http://www.knoxcounty.org/health/, which show the forecasted path the mulch fire plume will take across Knox County for today.
Several mounds of debris not affected by the fire will be moved to the Poplar View landfill off Rutledge Pike, which will give extra space for firefighters to work and concentrate on burning piles.
Progress continues to be made at the fire, and the Knoxville Fire Department has received help in the form of manpower and equipment from the Tennessee Forestry Division, Knoxville Metropolitan Airport Authority and Shamrock Organic. Trackhoe and D-3 Dozer operators have manipulated the piles by pushing, pulling and shoving them so water, along with a penetrating foam, can coat and cool the hot coals.
Knoxville Fire Chief Stan Sharp took an aerial view of the mulch fire with Mayor Madeline Rogero this afternoon in a helicopter provided by the Knox County Sheriff's Office.
"After our aerial view and checking with our crews on the ground, we feel like we are to a point where this is manageable," said Chief Sharp. "Now, hauling some of the debris off site is essential to give firefighters adequate room to extinguish the fire, which will improve public health and safety."
The Knox County Health Department is monitoring the air quality and offers the following on smoke-related information regarding the mulch fire: