Authorities scrambling to stamp out dozens of wildfires that have scorched more than 80,000 acres across the Southeast have a stern warning for apparent arsonists, NBC News reports.
"We're coming for you," David Purkey, commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security, said at a news conference in fire-ravaged Cocke County.
"If one of these first responders is injured or killed as a result of your actions, then the full weight of state government will come down upon you," Purkey pledged.
At least seven people have been arrested in hard-hit Tennessee on suspicion of starting forest fires in the past 20 days, officials said. At least two other incidents in Alabama are being investigated for arson, while one person described as an aspiring weatherman was charged with second-degree arson for a fire in eastern Kentucky.