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Update: Fire 'mostly out' after rain moves through area

6:10 PM, Mar 18, 2013   |    comments
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Update 5:50 p.m.

Firefighters say the fire is mostly out, and less than five acres are still burning. They say rain did the job.

Firefighters are being pulled off the mountain. 

A skeleton crew from Forestry, Knox and Roane County will monitor tonight.

Update 4:09 p.m.

Officials said two emergency workers were treated for exhaustion after fighting fire in Pigeon Forge.

Sevier County EMA Director John Mathews said one worker was treated overnight and the other was assisted on Monday. Authorities said these are the only two injuries reported so far in the Pigeon Forge fire.

Mathews confirmed that firefighters are battling a cabin fire on Bear Club Way as of 3:50 p.m. on Monday. Crews also started evacuating Dodgen Rentals off Wears Valley Road in Pigeon Forge at about two o'clock the same afternoon.

Firefighters built lines all around the area, but Sevier County Fire Marshal Jay Breeden said the fire has shifted towards Dodgen Rentals. Breeden confirmed that 15 of its cabins were occupied. Authorities sent renters to Calvary Baptist.

Pigeon Forge Fire Department called the fire contained, but not controlled. Crews reduced the blaze to half it's size this morning, but officials said they're still very concerned that heavy winds could push the fire towards other areas.

The Tennessee Army National Guard lent their Black Hawk helicopters to airlift water from Douglas Lake to douse the flames. So far, the helicopters have dumped 60 loads of water.

The fire sparked at about 4:00 p.m. on Sunday and at one time burned across 135 acres. Pigeon Forge Fire Department called the fire contained, but not controlled. Crews reduced the blaze to half it's size Monday morning. Sevier County Communications spokesman Perrin Anderson said 25-to-30 fire departments responded from all over East Tennessee.

Sevier County Mayor Larry Waters confirmed that the massive fire at Black Bear Ridge Resort and Trappers Ridge destroyed 59 cabins, damaged 16 others and affected 160 acres.

If Pigeon Forge homeowners want to know the status of their properties, the Pigeon Forge Fire Department are taking calls at 865-429-7381.

Stay with 10News and wbir.com for more information on this developing story. 

Update 2:25 p.m.

Crews started evacuating Dodgen Rentals off Wears Valley Road in Pigeon Forge at about 2:00 p.m. on Monday.

Firefighters built lines all around the area, but Sevier County Fire Marshal Jay Breeden said the fire has shifted towards Dodgen Rentals. Breeden confirmed that 15 of its cabins were occupied. Authorities sent renters to Calvary Baptist.

Pigeon Forge Fire Department called the fire contained, but not controlled. Crews reduced the blaze to half it's size this morning, but officials said they're still very concerned that heavy winds could push the fire towards other areas.

The fire sparked at about 4:00 p.m. on Sunday and at one time burned across 135 acres. Pigeon Forge Fire Department called the fire contained, but not controlled. Crews reduced the blaze to half it's size Monday morning. Sevier County Communications spokesman Perrin Anderson said 25-to-30 fire departments responded from all over East Tennessee.

Sevier County Mayor Larry Waters confirmed that the massive fire at Black Bear Ridge Resort and Trappers Ridge destroyed 59 cabins, damaged 16 others and affected 160 acres.

If Pigeon Forge homeowners want to know the status of their properties, the Pigeon Forge Fire Department are taking calls at 865-429-7381.

The Tennessee Army National Guard lent their Black Hawk helicopters to airlift water from Douglas Lake to douse the flames.

Shortly before noon, the Knoxville Fire Department sent one 1,500 gallon tanker, one brush truck and four firefighters.

Pigeon Forge Fire Chief Tony Watson said crews evacuated the area on Sunday and there are no injuries at this time.

"Everybody that I know of has not been injured," confirmed Watson. "This is by the luck of God and prayer that we've not been able to get that."

Crews led several vacationing families out of harm's way including Diane Conneeli and her family.

"We thank God we're alive and everyone is safe and our possessions can be replaced," said Conneeli. "And again we had a great week here and great people down here. Hopefully, we'll be back."

Kingwood Inn in Gatlinburg has opened its doors to assist people displaced by the fire. The American Red Cross Shelter closed at about 1:30 a.m. because it was not being used.  The shelter remains on standby and will reopen if needed.

Update 9:16 a.m.

Firefighters have reduced a massive fire to half its size in Pigeon Forge.

The fire started around 4:00 p.m. on Sunday at Black Bear Ridge Resort and Trappers Ridge.  At one time it burned across 135 acres.  

Crews worked throughout the night to prevent it from spreading.  

Monday morning, the Tennessee Army National Guard lent the service of its Black Hawk helicopters to airlift water from Douglas Lake to douse the flames.

Several vacationing families were evacuated including Diane Conneeli and her family.  

"We thank God we're alive and everyone is safe and our possessions can be replaced. And again we had a great week here and great people down here. Hopefully we'll be back," she said.

Stay with 10News and wbir.com for more information on this developing story.

Update 1:00 a.m.

Firefighter departments from several counties and the Tennessee Division of Forestry continue to battle a massive fire in Pigeon Forge overnight.

Sevier County Fire Department confirmed that the fire damaged at least 35 cabins near Black Bear Ridge Resort and Trappers Ridge at this time.

Pigeon Forge Fire Chief Tony Watson said his department used lots of resources fighting flames covering 200 to 300 acres.

"It's been rough.  It's been rough as I've ever seen it," said Watson.

Weather conditions failed to provide relief for crews struggling to contain the blaze.

"You gotta understand, it jumped across a road, several roads, and now it's racing up a hill," explained Watson.  "Luckily, the humidity, the temperatures dropped.  We're still not under control, but if it was earlier in the day, we'd still be in worse shape."

Crews evacuated the area, and Watson said there are no injuries at this time.

"Everybody that I know of has not been injured," confirmed Watson.  "This is by the luck of God and prayer that we've not been able to get that."

Officials said they believe a cabin fire at the Bear Ridge Resort ignited the massive fire at approximately 4:00 p.m.  Authorities still don't know what sparked the fire inside the cabin. Watson said the fire spread quickly, which made for dangerous conditions.

"These houses are put close together up there.  The first portion of this started out as a house fire. . . it led to several other next to it catching on fire," Watson said.  "Propane tanks have been exploding.  It's been a real dangerous."

Firefighters placed tankers on the scene carrying water to put out the flames. Officials used helicopters to extinguish the fire from a higher altitude as well.

"We're a long way from home.  We're going to be going into multiple operations for the next couple of days," said Watson.  "We're not even able to say this fire's under control.  We are not under control."

Tennessee Highway Patrol, Sevier County Sheriff's Office and Pigeon Forge Fire Department are helping with evacuation efforts and keeping people out of the danger zone.

Watson said people who live in Pigeon Forge, Waldens Creek, Wears Valley area, and Lost Branch area need to pay attention to the conditions.

"What I've been telling people, 'If you see the fire get close to your home call 911," said Watson.  "If you live in those areas right there, you need to be packing up some stuff and be ready to go, so if somebody knocks on your door, you're ready to get out quickly."

Agencies from all over East Tennessee and churches organized relief efforts throughout Sunday.

The American Red Cross opened an emergency shelter at the Pigeon Forge Community Center for people displaced by the fire. Red Cross volunteers also staffed an emergency relief vehicle to assist the area.

Stay with wbir.com for the latest updates on this developing story.
 

Previous Story

A fire at Black Bear Ridge Resort and Trappers Ridge has sparked multiple blazes and has spread into the woods in Pigeon Forge.

Sevier County dispatch said the fire started in two cabins at the resort on Lost Branch Road near Black Bear Cove Way at about 4:20 p.m. Sunday.

Dispatchers said crews have evacuated the area. Wears Valley, Walden and Pigeon Forge Fire Departments are currently fighting the flames, and 10News crews are on scene.

10News viewer Rita Goodwin of Pigeon Forge sent us this photo of the fire.

Stay with wbir.com for the latest updates on this developing story.

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