Top of the World Fire

By: Jim Freeman
By: Jim Freeman

Top of the World, Blount County (WVLT) - Heat, no rain, .and now danger, not much is stopping flames as they threaten homes in one Blount County community.

Jim Freeman was at the Top of the World community to find out what's happening there.

The scary part is over.

Right now, folks who have homes perched atop this gorgeous spot in East Tennessee are breathing a "smoky" sigh of relief.

"Normally, you can see Gregory's Bald in between smoke clouds and to the right of that's Parson's Bald,” says homeowner Larry Johnston.

That's not the case Monday at the doorstep of the Great Smoky Mountains. It'll be a few more days before the smoke clears and the few remaining flames fade.

"The goal is to get it completely black, and then we'll have to watch it after that to make sure that the leaves falling don't rekindle. We'll probably be with it the majority of this week,” says Assistant District Forester Nathan Waters.

Firefighters call the fire that began Friday night unexpected, because burn season usually begins in October. Twelve structures were at risk, especially this one who's owner is out of town. So, neighbors also came to the rescue.

"Some other guys brought some chain saws and cleared this whole area through here to give a little bit of a buffer between the trees,” says Johnston.

"We had to use probably in excess of 3,000 gallons of water trying to save it and successfully saved it. Flames got up real close to it,” says Blount County Fire Chief Doug McClanahan.

Almost too close, like within ten-feet in a couple of cases.

"We're pretty sure at this point in time it was a power line that had fallen and arced and started the brush on fire,” says Chief McClanahan.

Around 100 acres have burned here on Chilhowee Mountain where all homes were saved including where the Eagle Rock Church Camp meets.

"Just a little smoke damage, nobody's hurt. A year or two from now, we'll be glad it came. Our places will be safe because the undergrowth has been burned out,” says Johnston.

Effective Monday you are required to obtain a burning permit from the Department of Forestry if you want to burn anything in Tennessee.

Typically, burning permits are not required except during fire season which runs October 15th through May 15th.

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