Brush Fire Strikes Cove Mountain Again

Sevier County (WVLT) -- Heavy winds sparked parts of Cove Mountain on fire again on Saturday. Volunteer TV's Kim Bedford traveled to the scene where she found one Sevier County resident said enough is enough.

"I think it's preposterous that fires are getting out of hand," said Elizabeth Hickson who lives about a mile from the burning spots on Cove Mountain.

"We have so many construction sites around here, that construction sites burn the debris in their brush piles and they leave them uncontended and uncontained and the next thing you know, we look out and see the smoke on the mountain."

Six rentals were destroyed on Friday and 15 more homes had to be evacuated on Sunday. For Hickson, the week-long fire is getting too dangerous.

"The fire hasn't been contained, hasn't been put out and today it's back up again."

But at the same time 50 to 75 Sevier County firefighters were working atop Cove Mountain in shifts to end the brush fire.

"Until we get a really good rain, there's no way to extinguish all these stumps and debris that's burning," says Wears Valley Firefighter Brandon Headrick. "The heavy fuel can burn for weeks, so right now we're just waiting for the rain."

And Brandon has to address what many believe caused the fires.

"It has been told to me that it was a debris burning, just an individual burning some brush," he says. "That was back at the beginning of the week."

The fire has been going on for a week, and it has put a strain on fire fighters all over sevier county who are putting in long hours and not getting much sleep. Fortunately they do get a chance at some rest inside the rehab center at the Wears Valley Fire Department.

"The people that have been up there the longest," Headrick says, "we're letting them come off, go into rehab for a couple hours, get a nap, rest, get something to eat, get your mind off the fire."

And despite the fierce winds working against them, crews say they're slowing but surely making progress...

"We're doing all we can, but it's looking a lot better than it was this morning."

The Wears Valley Fire Department says its lost close to five-thousand dollars in equipment so far. As of late Saturday night, Sevier County Dispatch told WVLT that the fire was coming under control.


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