Our latest heroes
It was windy and it was dry, two weather conditions that make firefighters uneasy. Then it happened. First, a brush fire ignited on Dollywood’s property on Saturday, threatening structures and spreading into the woods. Then Sunday afternoon a fire started in a cabin near Pigeon Forge, which quickly spread and hit dozens of cabins.
For most people this was at most an inconvenience. Maybe they faced a lot of smoke or emergency vehicles on the road. For the many firefighters and emergency personnel battling those fires, it was an all-out assault over many hours with an uncertain trajectory. It was exhausting, dangerous, hot and brutal. A number of them were volunteers who left homes and jobs to join their colleagues.
Neither fire, it appears, produced injuries and loss of life. For that we are all thankful. There was property damage. The owners of the cabins in Black Bear Ridge Resort and Trappers Ridge, not far from Wears Valley Road and Long Branch Road, suffered a terrible loss. Nearby residents evacuated their homes as the fire threatened to spread.
All the while fire crews worked on. They stayed through the night, leaving exhausted as others relieved them. The fire that hit the cabins was a tough one, fueled by winds and dry conditions as well as the woods. Those who have fought wildfires know they can change directions quickly. There is great risk to those in the middle of it, particularly when there are hills and gulleys and ridges to deal with.
Firefighters respond to emergencies. They don’t cruise looking for trouble spots. When they get called, it’s a problem that needs their attention. When it’s a remote wildfire, away from water sources and easy access, it becomes even more of a challenge.
To all of the men and women who battled both fires, we say thanks. Thanks for the effort, for the time, for the training you endured to respond to such incidents, for a willingness to sacrifice home and job to help others. This won’t be the last time you’ll be called into action. It is so reassuring to know that when those times arise, we have these kinds of people ready to answer the call.