Sevier Brush Fire Threatens Homes

By: Allison Hunt
By: Allison Hunt

Wears Valley, Sevier County (WVLT) - A small fire that has burned for the last week has now turned into a substantial brush fire on Cove Mountain in Sevier County.

Nearly 100 homes are in danger of a fire that is still burning in a few places in Cove Mountain. But despite the danger some residents have chosen to stay hoping the flames will subside before they are put in harms way.

Flames engulfed 2 rental homes on top of Cove Mountain living only the chimneys behind.

"Fires coming down the mountain all around you. And you watch other peoples home burn down right before your eyes and you think wow this is for real this could really happen to us to," Mark Bassett watched as what he says was a ring of fire crawl down the mountain. He recalls the thick smoke. "Where you couldn't hardly breathe out here very thick through the trees."

Bassett watches as two men from the Tennessee Division of Forestry check for hot spots near a home he has spent the last 2 years building. But he's not ready to leave. "Until we actually see it coming down close to us we're ready to pack and we'll go."

Up to 500 acres have burned from a fire crews thought was out a few days ago.

"It is actually burned underground into the organic layer of the soil," says Nathan Waters from the Tennessee Division of Forestry.

While the rain slowed the fire down dry conditions did nothing to help.

"When it gets burning hot like that there are logs down on the ground and can get extremely warm. And it preheats fuels in front of it and the rain was evaporating it before it was hitting it," Waters says.

Six or seven counties, the Tennessee Division of Forestry, the National Park Service and the Wildland Task Force are doing all they can to protect the homes still standing.

"The fire department put their heart and soul into trying to save those but it just didn't happen with the winds going 50 miles per hour. With 50 foot flame lengths there wasn't any stopping it," Waters says.

Fire fighters hope the strong winds will calm down long enough to get fire lines in and residents like Craig Reed hope he friends farther up the mountain stay safe. "In makes you wonder about everybody and if they are ok and all that."

"It's very scary very scary and we're not out of danger yet," adds Bassett.

Crew will continue to fight the flames and check underground to make sure everything is burnt out over the next 2 or 3 days. The Sevier County Sheriff Department says it's still too dangerous for those that were evacuated to return home.


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