KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – A Tennessee National Guard helicopter deployed to help fight the wildfire raging in Sevier County was forced to make an emergency landing Thursday.
A spokesperson for the Tennessee Army and Air National Guard reported one of six UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters deployed to the area experienced engine failure and had to make an emergency landing around 11:30 a.m.
All four helicopter crewmembers are safe and no injuries have been reported.
The pilots were able to safety land the helicopter on a soccer field near Line Springs Road. The helicopter suffered minor damages upon landing, a release said.
The crewmembers are assigned to Detachment 1, Company C, 1- 171st Aviation Regiment, based in Knoxville, and were airlifting water to drop on wildfires in Sevier County.
“We currently have 5 other aircraft assisting with the wildfire. Our leadership is currently evaluating a possible replacement,” A Tennessee Army and Air National Guard spokesperson told WATE. “Our maintenance and safety team are assessing the damaged aircraft and have not yet determined how long it will take to repair.”
In a press conference Thursday morning, Sevier County Mayor Larry Waters said that the fire, officially referred to as the Hatcher Mountain-Indigo Lane fire, has burned over 3,700 acres and is currently 5% contained.
At least 100 structures have been damaged or destroyed and roughly 11,000 homes were evacuated as the fire continued to spread, though some residents have since been able to return to their homes.
Keep breaking news and weather alerts at your fingertips. Download the WATE 6 News and Weather apps.
The fire broke out around 11 a.m. Wednesday amid critical fire weather conditions due to strong winds and low humidity levels that caused local officials to not issue any burn permits. The cause of the fire has yet to be determined.