SEVIER COUNTY, Tenn. (WATE) – They are stories that could have gone untold, but Allen Robbins decided were better suited for a book. “Trial By Fire” shares memories from the night of the Sevier County Wildfires, from the experiences of the linemen at Sevier County Electric System.
Robbins, the general manager of SCES, said that night, his crews went from simply working to get the lights back on to, essentially, becoming first responders.
“The story they did not share with anybody, until we started this book project, was how many people they actually rescued off the mountain,” Robbins said. “There were people abandoning their cars and running to them, getting on our bucket trucks and our pickups, and they were driving them to safety.”
Robbins said he didn’t mind sharing the stories in front of small crowds or even in large groups, but admitted writing a book seemed a bit far outside his comfort zone. After months of convincing from others, and from within SCES, he decided to write the book.
His motivation came from the compelling nature of the stories. Robbins heard stories from first responders about how his crews “helped lead them into treacherous territory,” and received notes from thankful customers that called the linemen “heroes,” but Robbins never heard it first-hand until the book writing process.
His book, which was completed last spring, became available for purchase in July. It’s sold around 1,300 copies, which paid for the cost of its publishing plus some.
Now Robbins wants to pay it forward.
“I wanted to help the entities that helped our community because they gave so much at that time,” he said.
He has already presented $1,000 checks to Sevier County Food Ministries and United Way. Tuesday, he handed a third $1,000 check to Smoky Mountain Rescue Ministries.
“We replaced about 11 or 12 cars for folks. We provided furniture. We provided clothing. We did a lot of things,” Richard Wellons, SMARM director said. “The great thing that seems to help the most is just having compassion, being able to listen to people, and being able to meet their needs as best we can.”
Wellons remembers being flooded with people needing help following the fires.
He appreciated Robbin’s donation, and being remembered for their efforts more than three years later.
“His heart, as a Christian person, to try to help those in need is just outstanding,” Wellons said of Robbins. “We’re so thankful for people like Allen that help us in the community, and not only us, but other agencies as well because we really do all work together.”
You can pick up a copy of “Trial By Fire” at the Sevier County Electric System, 315 E. Main St., in Sevierville. Robbins said it’s $32.87, with tax.