SEVIER COUNTY, Tenn. (WATE) — Wednesday marks exactly one week since a wildfire sparked in Wears Valley.
The flames impacted more than 200 buildings and caused thousands of people to evacuate. While the Hatcher Mountain fire in Wears Valley is now 100% contained, stories continue to be shared about what it was like in the thick of the firefight.
WATE 6 On Your Side’s Elizabeth Kuebel talked to Waldens Creek Volunteer firefighter Samuel Torres, who recorded the flames on his helmet camera, about what he was up against.
“I’m kind of happy I got it,” Torres said. “Just so you can look back and remember how real it was.”
The camera he used was brand new. Torres said he just put it on his helmet the day before the fire.
“You can’t tell because it’s on my helmet, but in the video we were all wearing respiratory protection and goggles because there was so much heat and smoke you really couldn’t breathe or see if you took them off,” said Torres. “Every cabin has a propane tank next to it and you hear propane tanks exploding, it sounds kind of like a warzone. Later on we started hearing the fire trucks burning, and that was uncanny.”
One week later now, as his department adjusts and tries to get back to normal, Torres is hoping people watching this recognize the teamwork of multiple departments and get a glimpse of what they do.
“It’s really hard for people to realize the conditions firefighters work in when they get deployed to calls like that. I think it will really help people just kind of realize what we were dealing with.”
Torres and other volunteer firefighters don’t get paid to respond to fires like this, but he said helping the community is more important to him than making money.