Rebuilding continues after Gatlinburg wildfires

Local News

You can still see and hear construction a year and a half after deadly wildfires tore through the Gatlinburg area. Even though hundreds of buildings were damaged or destroyed, the community in Sevier County hasn’t given up.

One couple is building from the ground up, taking the extra steps to prevent their home from being destroyed again.

“It’s been very exciting. I’ve got a camera set up. I’m making a time-lapse video of the whole thing happening,” said Pete Jucker.

Pete and Joy Jucker started rebuilding their home a while ago, but have been patiently waiting for these specific walls.

“Interior of the wall, exterior of the wall and R-30 insulation is all done at the end of the day,” said Jucker.

The Juckers first spoke with WATE 6 On Your Side in 2017, shortly after their home was destroyed in the November 2016 wildfires.

“Nothing left but ashes and rubble and the whole neighborhood was gone,” said Jucker.

This time, they’re using specific building materials like Timber Block walls and more hardscape around the foundation, while also keeping flammable items like trees and pine needles at a distance to make their home Firewise. The hope is to prevent their home from burning down again.

“We wanted to come back here and do it right this time, not taking any shortcuts. The cosmetics can take shortcuts, but on the fundamentals, we’re not taking any shortcuts,” Jucker said.

The Juckers say it’ll cost them more to do it this way, but in the end, they say it will be worth it.

Chalet Village where the Juckers live achieved their Firewise USA recognition earlier this year, and Pete Jucker is the chairman of the Chalet Village Firewise.

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