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Investigators with the Tennessee Department of Agricultureís (TDA) Agriculture Crime Unit, along with authorities in Sequatchie and Monroe Counties and the State Fire Marshalís office have arrested two people suspected in separate arson cases.
Matthew Ryan Wallace, age 27 of Tuscaloosa, Ala. is accused of igniting a wildfire along Standifer Grant Road in Sequatchie County yesterday. He is charged with setting fire to personal property or land, a Class E felony, punishable with up to 6 years incarceration and a fine of up to $3000.
Monroe County Deputies arrested Charles Edward Martin, age 50 of Madisonville, Tenn. yesterday for deliberately setting a fire along Gamble Road. He is charged with setting fire to personal property or land, reckless burning and resisting arrest.
These arrests come just as the stateís arson reward fund grows. The Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation and the Tennessee Forestry Association have committed donations to the fund. Now, citizens may receive as much as $2500 for a tip that leads to an arson arrest and conviction.
The arson hotline is 1-800-762-3017 and is answered 24 hours a day. You can also report arson activity to the TDA Ag Crime Unit at 1-844-AGCRIME (1-844-242-7463). Callers may remain anonymous.
This year to date, about 1,238 wildfires have burned across the state. Almost 50% of those are suspected arson.
Due to the ongoing drought and destructive wildfires, Governor Bill Haslam has ordered a regional burn ban for East Tennessee. An Agriculture Commissionerís burn ban is in effect for two counties outside of that region, Sumner and Robertson. A violation of a burn ban is punishable as a Class A misdemeanor which carries a fine of $2,500 and/or up to 11 months 29 days in jail.
(Photo courtesy TN Dept. of Ag)
Tennessee Department of Health data show 1,451 people died from drug overdoses in the state in 2015. This is the highest annual number of overdose deaths recorded in state history and brings the five-year total for Tennessee to 6,036 lives lost.
In 2015, the overdose death rate was 22 per 100,000 people. This compares with a rate of 14.7 per 100,000 people who died in motor vehicle accidents, as 970 Tennesseans died last year on the stateís roadways.
In Putnam County 15 people died last year from drug overdoses. In Rhea County there were 22 drug overdose deaths. Officials did not release the numbers from Cumberland and several neighboring counties with less than one dozen overdose deaths in an effort to protect the identities of victims.
There were 62 counties in Tennessee in 2015 that had five or more overdose deaths. There were eight counties where no drug overdose deaths were documented: Haywood, Lake, Lauderdale, Perry, Pickett, Trousdale and Van Buren.
For 2015, Shelby County had the highest number of deaths from drug overdoses at 188.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials have issued a ban on all campfires and fire grills throughout the park due to the continued dry conditions and wildfires in the region.
Park leaders have implemented the ban to reduce the risk of escaped fires. The restriction will be in place until further notice.
The ban applies to all campfires and grills in the park, including frontcountry and backcountry campsites and picnic areas. The use of wood or charcoal fires is not permitted. At this time campers may continue to use gas camp stoves at designated campsites in the park.
Park leaders are also reminding visitors to extinguish all cigarettes, cigars and pipes and to dispose of them in appropriate containers.
Getting reports of a power outage in the City of Crossville. Numerous traffic lights out on Main Street and several businesses without power. VEC Outage Map reports more than 660 customers are without power in Cumberland County and electricity should be restored around 10 o'clock this morning. Wherever a traffic light is out, motorists should treat it as a 4-way stop.
(Crossville, TN; November 15, 2016): Denesa Jolley, County Executive Director of the Cumberland/Bledsoe County Farm Service Agency urges drought affected livestock producers to keep record of their time and expenses in providing emergency water sources for their livestock herds. The County Committee has requested approval from the Tennessee State FSA Committee to implement the Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) in order to provide cost-share assistance to affected producers. Jolley explained that if this request is approved, news releases will be sent to local radio stations and newspapers.