KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Like many agencies in the greater East Tennessee area and beyond, the Tennessee Highway Patrol sent help on the ground and in the air when wildfires broke out in the Wears Valley and Dupont communities last week.

THP Knoxville, whose personnel recently moved into the new headquarters in Strawberry Plains after decades at its Kingston Pike building, was able to mobilize a response team on March 30 when the first wildfire was reported.

“The Tennessee Highway Patrol sent its District 1 strike team to respond at noon on the 30th to Wears Valley,” THP spokesperson Clint McKissack said. “THP assisted with evacuations and road closures. Troopers were additionally tasked with going to the homes of individual residents helping with evacuation notifications.

“THP Sgt. Ryan Quin has been flying reconnaissance missions to monitor the spread of the fire and evacuation routes. The Mobile Command Center arrived from Nashville and was set up to provide a central location on-scene for Emergency Managers to coordinate together with a unified response.”

For days, the troopers on the ground provided support for traffic control and road closures along with sheriff’s office deputies. By Tuesday, April 5, the Hatcher Mountain/Indigo Lane wildfire in the Wears Valley community was reported to be 100% contained.

One trooper worked in THP’s wildfire response on what was his birthday.

“I spoke at length with one Trooper Evan Lane about his involvement,” McKissack said. “Trooper Lane serves this area as part of his regular patrol with Troop D comprised of Blount, Monroe, and Sevier (counties). I remember him going out of service on the 30th early on shift as it was his birthday. Trooper Lane said he always shared a birthday with his oldest sister who passed away on September 6, 2021.

“Trooper Lane was planning on spending time with his family to celebrate his birthday and that of his late sister. Trooper Lane said that when he got the call to respond he didn’t hesitate. He knew what was required of him when he took his oath. Trooper Lane said that when he left his driveway he did so with lights and sirens because he remembered what it was like in 2016.

“It is sacrifice like this to put the needs of others above the needs of oneself that makes these Troopers so amazing. The THP is committed to the safety of the citizenry throughout the great State of Tennessee.”