EFD deputy chief provides update from Sevier County: Mayor Humphrey adds statement about fires

Published 6:21 pm Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Since midnight, various firefighters from Carter County have been on scene to assist with the recent fire damage in Gatlinburg and the outskirts of Pigeon Forge.
Tennessee has already been under a Level 3 – State of Emergency since Thursday, Nov. 10, due to ongoing drought conditions and wildfire threats, Dean Flener, with the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) said in a statement to the Elizabethton Star.
According to information provided by TEMA, roughly 14,000-plus residents and visitors were evacuated from Gatlinburg alone and hundreds of structures were damaged and destroyed by the wildfires, according to local EMA officials on scene.
The Chimney Top Fire, which began in the Great Smoky Mountains, spread “very rapidly” according to the TEMA report, with high winds pushing flames onto private property.
Firefighters from the county have assisted with the current situation. Assistance locally is coming from the Elizabethton Fire Department (EFD) and the Watauga, Stoney Creek, Elk Millis and Hampton-Valley Forge Volunteer fire departments.
Rusty Barnett, deputy chief with the EFD, has been on scene with fellow firefighters and was scouting locations Tuesday afternoon.
“We arrived around midnight,” Barnett said in a phone interview with the Elizabethton Star. “It was a lot rougher then than it is now. We were out all night but things have calmed down as of right now.”
Barnett was on the road mapping out locations with fellow firefighters and recalled the destruction that took place from the fire, adding that many homes were completely destroyed due to the fire.
While hoping that rain would provide relief, Barnett added during the interview that winds were beginning to pick up in the region.”
According to information provided by the Hampton-Valley Forge Fire Department, the each of the departments are stationed together near Gatlinburg-Pittman High School.
Carter County Mayor Leon Humphrey responded provided a statement on the incident and sent his well wishes to the people affected by the fire.
“It’s a devastating event,” Humphrey said. “The Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge area is one of the most visited areas in the country with the national park and other attractions. Our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone that is affected by the fires.”
Humphrey also commended the efforts of the firefighters on scene. The five departments in the county, along with Smith, will continue to provide assistance. While a tragic event, Humphrey added the state knows how to come together during times of need.
“We’re glad to be able to provide assistance,” Humphrey said. “That’s what our state is all about. Each of the cities coming together to help out during a time of need. We’re very thankful for each of the firefighters and emergency personnel there giving their time to help with this situation.”
The American Red Cross is just one of the organizations currently on scene working with responders and victims. Residents interested in helping can make a $10 donation by texting REDCROSS to 90999 with all funding going to relief for victims.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox