Firefighters battle 200-acre wildfire in Sevier County, at least 20 cabins damaged

Firefighters battle 200-acre wildfire in Sevier County, at least 20 cabins damaged

17 March 2013

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USA — More than 20 cabins in a Sevier County resort area have been damaged by a 200-acre wildfire tonight, authorities said.

Nathan Waters, a spokesman with the Tennessee Division of Forestry, said late tonight that the fire had jumped Lost Branch Road and was threatening more cabins.

“There’s hundreds of cabins and rentals up here,” Waters said. “They are so close together they are going up like dominoes. Just one after the other.”

Firefighters were expecting to battle the blaze through the night. Waters said authorities were hoping to get some help today from a rainy forecast.

According to Sevier County spokesman Perrin Anderson, firefighters responded to a wildfire call at 4:18 p.m. off Lost Branch Road in the Black Bear Ridge Resort area between Wears Valley and Pigeon Forge.

By Sunday evening some 20 fire fighting agencies were on the scene and a command post has been set up in the parking lot of Calvary Baptist Church at 1735 Wears Valley Road.

Anderson said there were no reports of injuries.

Glen Studinger, who manages the county disaster team for the American Red Cross, said at least two families contacted the organization seeking help. He expected more to reach out to the through the night.

Andy and Cassie Endris came to the resort from Indiana with another couple to celebrate a birthday. After a day of hiking and dinner at Dixie Stampede, the couples started to return to their cabin only to find closed roads and an orange blaze glowing on top of the ridge.

Clothes for four days and a laptop that were still in their cabin.

“It’s just stuff. Everything is replaceable,” Cassie Endris said. “We’re all safe. I’m just shook up.”

Megan Reagan and her husband, Paul, went to church when the fire started. Firefighters escorted the couple to their cabin on Lost Branch Road shortly after 9 p.m. to retrieve medicine, diapers and formula for their daughter.

Reagan said she put photos and mementos in the fire safe before they left but wasn’t sure how secure they would be.

“We’ve got what we need,” she said, fighting back tears. “We’ve got our family and we’ve got God, but it’s still just scary.”

She said they would likely stay with her mother for the night.

Elaine Pugh was staying at a cabin in the resort with her family to attend her son’s weekend wedding. She was out shopping Sunday evening when she received a call about the fire.

Though her family was safe, she convinced a Sevier County Sheriff’s Department deputy into rescuing her two dogs. The deputy retrieved the Chihuahua mix dogs in their kennels, and Pugh and her family had a tearful reunion with their pets in the parking lot.

More details as they develop online and in Monday’s News Sentinel.

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