PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (WATE) — Two firefighters were injured and five fire engines were damaged or destroyed during the massive response to a wildfire that began in the Wears Valley community Wednesday, according to Sevier County Mayor Larry Waters during a press conference Thursday.
The wildfire, officially dubbed the Hatcher Mountain-Indigo Lane fire, continued to burn as officials spoke. The continued response is planned for the foreseeable future.
Waters, speaking to the press at the Ramsey Hotel conference room in Pigeon Forge, said four county agency fire engines and one state agency fire engine were impacted in the wildfire.
Pigeon Forge Fire Department’s Chief Tony Watson said the firefighters had made a stand in an effort to protect a structure on the mountain, when they were overtaken by the flames they had to take cover.
“The entrapment came up on Hatcher Mountain,” Watson said. “They were up there trying to protect Von Bryan (Inn) and they were making one heck of a stand. And the road got blocked so they had to abandon their vehicles and go back into the black… as the fire blew over the top of them.”
Watson said the firefighters were able to find refuge as the fire went past them.
“Hopefully they’re all alright,” Watson said.
Waters confirmed the wildfire in the Wears Valley community had grown overnight from 1,000 acres to more than 3,700 acres and was 5% contained. At least 100 buildings were impacted. At least 70 fire departments and emergency personnel were working the wildfire and roads.
“The fire came close to city limits,” Waters said. “We’re thankful our firefighters were able to prevent that.”
MountainTough.org was also reactivated from the 2016 Sevier County and Gatlinburg wildfires that aimed to support impacted residents. No word on the extent of the damage to the fire engines, or the current conditions of the injured firefighters.