Two homes lost in separate fires

50 acres burn in wildfire
Feb. 19, 2013 @ 08:59 PM

Monday night and Tuesday morning were busy for local firefighters, who fought two structure fires and a 50-acre wildfire within a few hours.

The fires started at about 10 p.m. Monday,with a blaze at a house on Tall Poplar Way, not far from Pittman Center on the eastern edge of the county.

Volunteer firefighters responded to the structure fire, but firefighters with the Tennessee Division of Forestry were called to the scene when the fire spread to the surrounding woods, spokesman Nathan Waters said.

The blaze only covered an acre, and the firefighters were able to get it extinguished within a few hours.

“They got a good line around it and it was completely out,” he said.

They left around 1:30 a.m., he said — just in time to get a call to a 50-acre wildfire on Overholt Trail in the Shagbark community.

“The wind broke a pine tree and it came across the power line and that started the fire,” Waters said.

The fire threatened seven structures — four rental cabins and three permanent residences, he said. The Wildlands Task Force was activated; with heavy winds blowing overnight it still could have been much worse.

The rain that fell overnight aided in their efforts, Waters said, but also left some of the rugged terrain so slick that they were holding back from improving some of the fire lines. The fire was contained and firefighters were monitoring it, he said, but they were waiting for the conditions to improve Tuesday afternoon.

“It doesn’t have good lines around it, they want to improve the lines up there,” he said.

A house fire that started nearby around the same time did not appear to be related, Pigeon Forge Chief Tony Watson said.

Watson and some other fighters initially called out to the wildfire instead went to that fire on Natures Lane.

Two residents who lived at that home escaped the blaze and were staying Tuesday with members of their church, he said.

The blaze destroyed their home and threatened another due to the heavy winds.

“The wind was blowing unbelievably. It was not a pretty sight, there were big old embers going everywhere,” Watson said.

“If we’d been there any later we would have lost the other house.”

jfarrell@themountainpress.com