Firefighters, volunteers come together to combat growing wildfire

Over 11,000 homes have been evacuated in Sevier County

CHATTANOOGA (WDEF) — Wildfires are blazing through Tennessee, with some of the largest being outside Pigeon Forge in Sevier County.

Needing backup, Chattanooga has been just one of many departments to provide relief in wake of the disaster.

“From our department, we did send one engine company and one tanker company,” said CFD Operations Chief Rick Boatwright. “Several departments around the area also sent the same assets.”

CBS News reported Thursday that the Hatcher Mountain-Indigo Lane wildfire grew to 3,700 acres, with only about 5% contained.

Fortunately, Boatwright says more firefighters are on the way.

“They still are bringing assets in, which is more fire crews,” Boatwright said. “As you can imagine, the terrain is pretty bad up there. Roads are tight, crews get tired very quickly, so rotating those crews out takes a lot of staffing to do that.”

Elsewhere, American Red Cross volunteers are assisting locals, providing disaster relief to those who’ve had to evacuate.

Red Cross Regional Director of Communications Sherri McKinney warned those in the area that if told to leave for one’s safety, do so without hesitation.

“What we are encouraging people to do is please heed any warnings,” McKinney said. “If you hear an evacuation for your area, get out and get out quick.”

McKinney reassured those displaced near Pigeon Forge that they’ll be able to receive assistance from the Red Cross at the local community center.

“We will have volunteers there for medical needs in case anyone left back their prescription medicines,” McKinney said. “We will also have mental health volunteers on-site also to help folks through what is indeed a very traumatic situation.”

While their work’s only getting started, Boatwright is proud of the collective team who’s on the front lines seeing the job done.

“It’s tremendous to see with the Tri-State Mutual Aid all of these departments come together and can work so closely,” Boatwright said. “We’re lucky to have that around here.”

Tennessee’s own Dolly Parton doesn’t live that far from where the fires are brewing and took to Twitter to say how “proud” she is of everyone in the area “pulling together like they always do.”

She also thanked the “brave men and women who are working to contain the fire.”

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