Forest fire leads workers to suspected dogfighting ring

Forest fire leads workers to suspected dogfighting ring

Posted:
Charvez Nelson Francisco (Source: Hawkins County Sheriff's Office) Charvez Nelson Francisco (Source: Hawkins County Sheriff's Office)
As of Monday afternoon, the fire had burned 1,700 acres and was about 20 percent contained. (Source: Ed Gibbs) As of Monday afternoon, the fire had burned 1,700 acres and was about 20 percent contained. (Source: Ed Gibbs)

MOORESBURG (WATE) - Firefighters with the state's forestry department working a fire in Hawkins County uncovered suspected dogfighting and cockfighting rings on private property.

Tim Phelps of the Tennessee Division of Forestry Administration said the crew was working a fire that began earlier in the week on Short Mountain, east of Mooresburg.

While crews worked to contain the fire on Saturday, they discovered roughly 20 dogs and 20 roosters chained up in the woods near Tater Hill Road on top of the mountain.

The animals were taken to area animal shelters in Hawkins, Greene, Washington, and Hamblen Counties because they were in danger due to the fire.  

Hawkins County Sheriff's deputies used Humvees to get to the animals to safety. The process took almost nine hours to complete.

Investigators believe the dogs were involved in fighting in part because of bite marks and wounds to the animals.

One man, Charvez Nelson Francisco, of Knox County, was charged Sunday with cruelty to animals and felony cock and animal fighting.

Forestry officials believe the forest fire is a result of arson.

As of Monday afternoon, the fire had burned 1,700 acres and was about 20 percent contained.

Forestry workers as well as the VFDs of Hawkins County and some in Grainger County were working to put out the fire.

They described the fire as slow-burning and said the area has a very rugged terrain.

Though no structures were in immediate danger, emergency workers called for a voluntary evacuation for residents in Mooresburg.

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