Earth Watch Report  –  Forest/Wild Fires

A wildfire, seen here from helicopter, destroyed more than 30 cabins in East Tennessee, March 17, 2013.

18.03.2013 Forest / Wild Fire USA State of Tennessee, [Pigeon Forge region] Damage level

Forest / Wild Fire in USA on Monday, 18 March, 2013 at 07:28 (07:28 AM) UTC.

Firefighter departments from several counties and the Tennessee Division of Forestry continue to battle a massive fire in Pigeon Forge overnight. Sevier County Fire Department confirmed that the fire damaged at least 35 cabins near Black Bear Ridge Resort and Trappers Ridge at this time. Pigeon Forge Fire Chief Tony Watson said his department used lots of resources fighting flames covering 200 to 300 acres. “It’s been rough. It’s been rough as I’ve ever seen it,” said Watson. Weather conditions failed to provide relief for crews struggling to contain the blaze. “You gotta understand, it jumped across a road, several roads, and now it’s racing up a hill,” explained Watson. “Luckily, the humidity, the temperatures dropped. We’re still not under control, but if it was earlier in the day, we’d still be in worse shape.”

Crews evacuated the area, and Watson said there are no injuries at this time. “Everybody that I know of has not been injured,” confirmed Watson. “This is by the luck of God and prayer that we’ve not been able to get that.” Officials said they believe a cabin fire at the Bear Ridge Resort ignited the massive fire at approximately 4:00 p.m. Authorities still don’t know what sparked the fire inside the cabin. Watson said the fire spread quickly, which made for dangerous conditions. “These houses are put close together up there. The first portion of this started out as a house fire. . . it led to several other next to it catching on fire,” Watson said. “Propane tanks have been exploding. It’s been a real dangerous.” Firefighters placed tankers on the scene carrying water to put out the flames. Officials used helicopters to extinguish the fire from a higher altitude as well.

“We’re a long way from home. We’re going to be going into multiple operations for the next couple of days,” said Watson. “We’re not even able to say this fire’s under control. We are not under control.” Tennessee Highway Patrol, Sevier County Sheriff’s Office and Pigeon Forge Fire Department are helping with evacuation efforts and keeping people out of the danger zone. Watson said people who live in Pigeon Forge, Waldens Creek, Wears Valley area, and Lost Branch area need to pay attention to the conditions. “What I’ve been telling people, ‘If you see the fire get close to your home call 911,” said Watson. “If you live in those areas right there, you need to be packing up some stuff and be ready to go, so if somebody knocks on your door, you’re ready to get out quickly.” Agencies from all over East Tennessee and churches organized relief efforts throughout Sunday. The American Red Cross opened an emergency shelter at the Pigeon Forge Community Center for people displaced by the fire. Red Cross volunteers also staffed an emergency relief vehicle to assist the area.

State of Emergency Declared In Pigeon Forge Due To Fire

Posted on: 10:55 am, March 18, 2013, by


(Pigeon Forge, TN CNN) Tennessee authorities declared a state of emergency and sent in the National Guard on Monday in an effort to control a fast-moving wildfire near the resort town of Pigeon Forge.

The fire started about 5 p.m. Sunday and quickly spread, charring more than 30 cabins and turning propane tanks into shrapnel.

About 20 fire departments have been fighting the fire, authorities said.

“Propane tanks have been exploding,” Pigeon Forge Fire Chief Tony Watson said Sunday. “It’s been real dangerous.”

Now at 230 acres, the blaze started as a house fire, according to Watson.

“It looks like somebody just went through there and just dropped a bomb on the place,” Shannon McCostlin told affiliate WATE-TV. “I feel bad for them people.”

The area is home to rental cabins with some permanent residences.

National Guard helicopters were flying to the scene Monday morning and will drop water from a nearby lake onto the fire, said Perrin Anderson, a spokesman for Sevier County.

The help is badly needed, Watson said Sunday.

“You gotta understand, it jumped across a road, several roads, and now it’s racing up a hill,” he told CNN affiliate WBIR-TV.

The fire has been partially contained, said Dean Flener, a spokesman for the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency.

About 150 people were evacuated Sunday and the American Red Cross opened a shelter at the Pigeon Forge Community Center.

Pigeon Forge, in eastern Tennessee, is best known for singer Dolly Parton’s theme park, Dollywood, which was not affected by the fire.

Positioned on the edge of the Great Smoky Mountains, the area also is popular with outdoors enthusiasts and has a wide variety of other attractions, including music theaters, outlet malls, go-kart tracks and mini-golf courses.

More than 30 cabins torched by Tennessee wildfire

A wildfire, seen here from helicopter, destroyed more than 30 cabins in East Tennessee, March 17, 2013.

A wildfire, seen here from helicopter, destroyed more than 30 cabins in East Tennessee, March 17, 2013. / WVLT-TV/CBS

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. A wildfire burning in a resort area outside the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in eastern Tennessee has destroyed more than 30 large rental cabins.

The 145-acre fire was first reported around 5 p.m. EDT Sunday in Sevier County, said Ben Bryson, a fire resources coordinator with the Tennessee Division of Forestry. Smoke was reported to be visible from 25 miles away.

Bryson said early Monday that the fire was contained and not expected to spread.


Fires burn in two Southern states

Some of the cabins were occupied and about 150 to 200 people were evacuated, but no injuries were reported, Bryson said.

After dawn Monday, two Tennessee Air National Guard helicopters took off from nearby McGhee Tyson Airport. A state Forestry Division spokesman said the helicopters would be used to scoop up water from Douglas Lake and drop it on the fire.


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