WEARS VALLEY, Tenn. (WATE) — Over 500 911 calls were placed on Wednesday, March 30 when the Hatcher Mountain, Indigo Lane fire began.
From March 30 to April 5, the wildfire would burn over 3,400 acres and 221 structures. On April 14 the Tennessee Department of Agriculture released that the cause of the fire was downed powerlines and exacerbated by high winds.
“I had read on the fire department’s website that morning that we were under a red flag and that if we saw smoke, we should call it in right away,” said Teri Conley, who lives in Wears Valley.
Conley was the second person to call 911.
“Yes, I’m in Wears Valley, and I’m looking across the valley and see smoke,” she said. “My name is Teresa Conley” The dispatcher asks, “Teresa do you see flames?”
“No, I don’t see flames, but I see a lot of smoke. A lot of smoke,” said Conley.
Callie Mehlberg was the third caller. Her family of seven was on vacation from Michigan.
“We arrived on Sunday before the fires started,” she said. “We were making breakfast and we last power and I’m not really sure on the exact time frame but I think we kind of guesstimated about ten minutes after the power went out, we were standing on the deck of our cabin and saw smoke about 150 yards from where our cabin was.”
This is part of her frantic call to 911.
“Hi, we’re staying in a cabin up in… a mountain here. And we just lost power but I think there’s a transformer or something on fire ’cause there’s smoke […] everywhere, so I don’t know what to tell you for a location other than the address of our cabin.”
Both Conley’s and Mehlberg’s families had to evacuate.
Conley’s home is okay and so was Mehlberg’s family, but Mehlberg said it’s an experience she rather not live through again.
“I don’t have plans to return any time soon honestly,” she said.