Editor’s note: Many fire departments and emergency workers responded to help fight the wildfires and perform search and rescue during the deadly forest fires that burned areas around Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge on Monday, November 28. Here are stories from two Anderson County rescuers who responded to the Gatlinburg fires, as reported by Roane State Community College.
‘We made our way through what looked like the gates of hell’
By Matthew R. Burrell
On the night of Monday, November 28, various Anderson County fire departments were asked to respond on mutual aid calls to the City of Gatlinburg. Of those departments, Andersonville responded with a crew of three and one pumper.
Once we arrived at the meeting point, we were sent to Pittman Center for staging. On our way to our assigned location, there were many thoughts of the unknown. We were bouncing several scenarios off of each other—from “what are we going to do to pass time if all we do is sit in the parking lot,” to how crazy it could possibly be and what we might encounter.
When we first responded, I made contact with the Gatlinburg Fire Department chief, and the intensity in his voice told me that it was bad. But once we hit the spur, we realized just how bad it was. We made our way through what looked like the gates of hell and then entered the city. There was a constant orange glow everywhere you looked. We were amazed at the devastation and at how many buildings were on fire. [Read more…]