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The Great Smoky Mountain Journal

Staff, Wire Reports

Posted: Sunday, January 21, 2018 07:28 PM

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Morristown Residents Get Scare From Brush Fire Wednesday Night

MORRISTOWN, Tenn. (SOURCE: WVLT) -- The Morristown Police Department, Hamblen County Sheriff's Office, Morristown Fire Department, and four volunteer fire department units responded to a brush fire Wednesday night that was called in "about the size of a football field," according to the Morristown Police Department.

As of about 2:30 Thursday morning, police said the flames were 75 percent contained. First responders were still on scene dealing with hot spots and live embers, hoping winds remained calm. Reporter David Ball said the fire had burned about 25 acres.

On Thursday afternoon, an official with the Tennessee Division of Forestry confirmed that the fire had been extinguished, with only smoke spots remaining.

The police department said the fire started at approximately 10:30 p.m. Wednesday near Celeste Ave. and Ridgemont Dr.

About a dozen homes were evacuated as a precaution. Approximately 19 people who were evacuated stayed at a shelter set up by the Red Cross at Manley Baptist Church. Fire command assessed the situation at daylight and evaluated the area before allowing residents to return to their homes at around 5:30 a.m. Thursday.

Officials said winds were making the fire more difficult to fight Wednesday night.

"It was a challenge, the wind was the biggest challenge," Forestry Technician Rick Martin told local news outlets Thursday. "It was pushing it out, our main focus was anyone's home not getting burnt."

Martin worked the Sevier County wildfires in November 2016, and he said it's impossible to shake those memories—he said they go with him in every fire, especially those near homes.

Police say no structures were damaged. One volunteer firefighter received injuries that were not life threatening.

Darlene Noe said she was getting right back to work Thursday at Manley Baptist Church after spending the night there and opening the doors to her neighbors in need. She told local news outlets she thought she wouldn't wake up Thursday morning.

"We went back to the driveway knowing we were trapped," she said. "I called one of my daughters and called to tell her bye, how much I loved her, and I said, 'We are trapped and probably not going to get out.'"

A few minutes after that call, Noe said a police officer found her and helped her find a way out of the neighborhood. She said the whole experience put the people of Gatlinburg on her mine.

"It was scary trying to go down the mountain, and what went through my mind was the people in Gatlinburg and what they went through, cinders were floating in the air, you couldn't see because of the smoke, and what went through my mind was my children and am I gonna see them again?" she said.

The Hamblen County Sheriff's Office asked that no one venture up the roads into the Crockett's Ridge Subdivision Wednesday, saying narrow and winding rears needed to stay clear for emergency and firefighting vehicles to maneuver through.