Dunlap VFD Returns from Four days of Fighting Gatlinburg Fires
The devastating fires are gone in Gatlinburg, but the tragic circumstances remain.
Dozens of fire fighting units arrived to help control the wildfires, and one of them—the Dunlap volunteer fire department is back home now.
Here’s their story.
CHRIS WALKER, DUNLAP VFD “When you get into downtown Gatlinburg it, the strip and everything else is still intact..as soon as you go one block one way or another and you start to see all the different burned buildings.”
There are thousands of stories to be told about the fast-moving wildfires that ravaged Gatlinburg and the forest around it.
Help came from all over, including several local fire departments like Bradley County, Cleveland, Soddy-Daisy, Walden’s Ridge, Sequoyah, and Dunlap.
Those to went to help also have stories.
CHRIS WALKER, DUNLAP VFD “Tuesday was our longest day, once we got up there, it was about a 32 hour shift that we pulled. We realized we were going to be on a nightshift crew so, by the time we go to our hotel Wednesday morning it was about 4 ours of sleep…and go right back in for a night shift. It really depends on what they need was.”
The five Volunteer fire fighters from Dunlap arrived back home Friday night with the sights and sounds of one of the state’s worst natural disasters fresh in their minds.
CHRIS WALKER “I think me personally, and I guess collectively ..this–everything we saw, its nothing short of a miracle that number is not higher than what it is already.”
The crew from Dunlap was ready for Gatlinburg–it had just fought-off a major wildfire in November on Smith Mountain.
CHIEF NORMAN HATFIELD, DUNLAP VFD “You know we were fighting winds of sometimes of 20-30-40 mile an hours winds…whereas Gatlingburg they were fighting 70 plus mile and hour winds. It’s a big difference.”
The team returned safely, but back in Gatlinburg, the search continues for more victims.
There are 14 confirmed fatalities so far.