KNOX COUNTY, Tenn. (WATE) — In the wake of a fire in the Choto community of Knox County, officials are urging residents to take preventative measures to protect their homes.

Rich Whitmer and his wife live in the area, and they were returning from dinner Tuesday evening when they saw the flames.

“At that point, when I got up to the street, you could see the glow of the fire up towards the top of the hill,” Whitmer explained.

After talking with firefighters on scene, Whitmer took measures to protect his home in case the fire spread.

“I blew some of the leaves away from the house like he suggested, and I looked out the back and I could see the flames right behind the house, maybe 100 yards back there creeping up, and I said to my wife, time to pack,” Whitmer said.

Jeff Bagwell with Rural Metro Fire Department said moving leaves and other dry landscaping away from your home can help protect it from fires.

“As we can see from this house, all of the leaves are out of the yard, pushed over into the trees, which is a good spot because it’s away from the house,” Bagwell explained.

Jeff Bagwell with Rural Metro showing how leaves blown away from the home protect it from the flames during a wildland fire in the Choto community. (WATE)

The Tennessee Division of Forestry assisted Rural Metro with the response, creating dozer lines to hold off the fire. Nathan Waters with the Division of Forestry said the terrain in the area created challenges for responding crews.

“Mainly just the cliffs, I mean it was just so steep, it’d go off into the water and you can’t get down there because it’s a drop-off,” Waters explained. “You have to do what you can because you have to get a line around the fire or it will continue to get out.”

The fire spread to 24 acres, and was considered 100% contained around 8:00 p.m. Tuesday night.

“However it started, had to be of man’s hands, clearly, and that has yet to be determined exactly how. But, first thing you have to start with is, we have a burn ban for a reason, the burn ban means no open burning, so that means don’t have any fire outside of any kind that’s not in something like a charcoal grill,” Bagwell said.

Neighbors echoed gratitude for the crews on scene.

“They did a really good job, I appreciate it,” Whitmer said.

Bagwell also encouraged residents to move propane tanks, lawn furniture and firewood away from their homes.