SEVIERVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — After recent wildfires in Sevier County, being prepared for the unexpected was the message many emergency responders and organizations wanted to get across at the Wildfire Community Preparedness Expo.
“Things like fuel load mitigation around your home ignition zone, having an evacuation route with a ready set go program, and then just community awareness and understanding your terrain, what the landscape has around you,” Brook Smith, an area forester with the Tennessee Dept. of Agriculture Division of Forestry said.
For Pete Jucker, a community chairperson for Firewise, the event serves as a way to educate the community in hopes of avoiding the devastating outcomes of the Gatlinburg fire.
“I got into firewise because of that, and that’s what spurred me on to do what we’re doing,” he said.
Jucker was one of the many who lost his home in 2016, so for him, this is a topic he’s always willing to talk about to help save homes, but most importantly, lives.
“Make sure you realize that once a fire is in the air, it’s too late to prepare,” he said.
Jucker said it’s also important to spread the message with any visitors in the area.
“Here in Sevier County, we have a lot of tourists, a lot of guests that come to visit our place. Make sure the places they are renting have information in them on where they are and how to get out,” he said.
This is amongst many other points the event aimed to push out to keep homes and people safe. Sevier County Fire Administrator David Puckett said there are many components to consider, and it’s better to be prepared sooner rather than later.
“Even if you don’t think you’re at risk for a wildfire in your area, there’s still a lot of measures you can take to help reduce that,” Puckett said.
Find out more information on the Firewise website, or reach out to local first responders.