Pigeon Forge Tourist Area Affected
Update, 6 pm: Rain aids in knocking down fire. More than 50 Structures now gone. Scroll down for details.
A WILDFIRE IN THE SMOKY Mountains resort area has taken out more than 30 structures, most of them rental units, and is still threatening others this morning. Between 100 and 200 acres have been involved so far, but the fire officials believe they have it under contol, albeit not firmly.
WBIR-TV / Comeaux
The fire is believed to have started in one of the cabins around 4 pm Sunday and it quickly began spreading from one to another in the Black Bear Ridge Resort near Pigeon Forge.
This photo by John Helt shows what may be the
initial fire that started forest fire. (WATE-TV)
WATE-TV is reporting:
"The first portion of this just started as a house fire. It led to several others just next to it catching on fire," Pigeon Forge Fire Chief Tony Watson said. "Propane tanks have been exploding."
John Helt told 6 News he was working on a cabin when he saw the flames leap from a nearby cabin. He said it appeared to him that the fire started in a hot tub on the cabin's deck. Wind helped to quickly spread the fire.
"We were experiencing the absolute worst firefighting conditions known to mankind up there," Watson said.
Crews from 25 departments worked through the night, but by daylight smoke and flames could still be seen on the ridge. There were fears the wind could fan the flames over the ridge to other cabins.
WATE-TV also has the latest video report that includes some good aerial footage:
The National Guard is sending a pair of helicopters this morning to assist in the firefighting efforts. About 150 people have been evacuated from the fire zone so far.
WBIR-TV / Helt
The area's most famous attraction, the Dollywood theme park is currently not threatened by the fire, but they did have a much smaller brush fire near their property earlier Sunday.
No injuries have been reported yet.
Update, 6 pm:
As of 2:30 this afternoon at least 50 structures had been destroyed and the Command Post said that the fire was "contained but not controlled."
Shortly after that a heavy rainstorm swept over the region and practically extinguished the fire. The crews have moved in and mopped up the hot spots and all units have been dismissed from the fireground.
A skeleton crew from State Forestry, Knoxville, and Roane County will be on the scene all night monitoring for any flare ups while the 25+ departments that worked the fire return home to rest and restock their equipment.
There have been only two injuries reported, both firefighters who dropped from exhaustion, one last night and one this afternoon.
WBIR-TV has the latest details.
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