Fire on the Mountain

By: Stephen McLamb, Bureau Chief
By: Stephen McLamb, Bureau Chief

Wears Valley, Sevier County (WVLT) - Firefighters say a blaze on Sevier County's Cove Mountain is like a forest fire, but in a city.

Six cabins have fallen victim to the flames which started from a controlled debris fire.

Now, firefighters are especially concerned about this fire because hot spots could flare up and take out a home in no time.

After a huge fire atop Cove Mountain, little is left of six log cabins burned to the ground on Thursday.

"You hate to see anybody's house burn down but in these conditions there was nothing you could do. We had to think of our safety first," says Wears Valley Fire Department Lieutenant Brandon Headrick.

Firefighters say they were working on the fire hundreds of yards away on Smokies Ridge when a flaming ember went into the air.

"Then it jumped from this house on that ridge top to over here and we could see the spot fire," Lt. Headrick says.

Then heavy winds turned that spot fire into a house fire.

"Between each structure was propane tanks so when the propane tanks started blowing and venting that's when you know it went from structure to structure to structure," Headrick says.

Firefighters were back in the woods stamping out hotspots Friday morning.

"Twenty to thirty cabins to try to protect you know and clean around and try to keep from losing any more structures," says Gerald Shelton, Sevier County Fire Technician.

But many home owners came rushing to see if their home was ok. The Gregory family drove six hours from Ohio and are thankful their home is safe.

"Our granddaughter is seven and she would be very sad because she just loves coming down here," says Vickie Gregory.

But fighting fires where homes have invaded the wilderness is difficult.

"With the power lines and propane tanks you just have to be really careful. You know, you have to come back and continually stay on top of it," says Nathan Waters from the Forestry Department.

And with good fire conditions, they say they're doing their best.

"Anytime that you have the high winds and the low humidity you've always got that danger of the fire kicking back up," Shelton says.

Officials say firefighters from west Tennessee have come in to assist.

The fire has now burned more than 175 acres.

Crews have no idea on when the fire will be completely extinguished.


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