Codes could change after wildfire


PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Zoning regulators say the fire on Black Bear Ridge may not have been completely avoided, but they are looking ways to slow down a fire once it starts.

Sevier County Planning Director, Jeff Ownby, says it was in 2009 the county adopted full zoning and code regulations on new developments in the county. He says the after the fire near Pigeon Forge, the county is talking about adding sprinkler systems as a requirement to new cabin developments.

"So that if there is a fire, there's almost a built in knock down system that maybe keeps the fire from engulfing residence so I can then spread to other units," said Ownby. "Wind is extremely dangerous because there's obviously no way to control it and that's what's obviously happened here. "

Right now the county does require cabins have 50ft between them, but the distance can be more if adequate fire protection isn't available like fire hydrants, or if fire trucks can make it up the steep inclines.

Firefighters say the fire was a unique situation and there was very little that could have stopped the fire once it grew so big. They do recommend you follow some fire-wise tips to protect your home from fire.

Ownby recommends a 30ft fire break between your home and keep combustible materials away. Also he says you should be careful what you plant up close, some plants have a high oil concentration that can act as accelerates for fires.

"The proximity of these buildings, and others in our area lend themselves to a hot fire, fueled by wind, makes it easy for fire to move from one unit to the next," Ownby said.

He also suggest, as pretty as the view maybe, you not cut down every tree around your home.


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