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Rain Douses Fires in Kentucky, Tennessee

November 21, 2001|From Times Wire Reports

Rain helped control scores of arson fires that have scorched thousands of drought-stricken acres across eastern Kentucky and Tennessee, authorities said.

Most of the fires were started by arsonists who believe in an Appalachian tradition of ridding the woods of insects and snakes before fall deer hunting season. But some may have been set out of mischief.

Severe drought has turned minor blazes into persistent fires.

Only a few suspects have been arrested in the scores of fires that have burned since early October in the tinder-dry hardwood forests of the states, authorities said. The Appalachian region's rugged, steep terrain hampered firefighters.

But an official in eastern Tennessee said 38 of 42 fires in the area are under control.

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