MEMPHIS - It's a gut-wrenching story of survival that captured the hearts of Mid-Southerners, and those across the nation. A story of brothers fighting to survive after losing their parents in the deadly Sevier County wildfire.
The three Summers brothers narrowly escaped the wildfire that ripped through Gatlinburg. Sadly, their parents were both killed in the fire.
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The community has rallied around the Summers family and now, the family is releasing details about the terror the boys endured and what they went through just to make it out alive. It seems like something stripped straight from a movie script.
"I have good days and bad," Jim Summers said.
Jim lost his brother, Jon, a Memphis architect, and his sister-in-law Janet in the fire. His three nephews, Wesley, Branson, and Jared were able to escape despite being severely burned.
Jim said it all started when a tree fell and blocked the escape path for the family.
"At some point the fire, a gust of wind just comes up, and it begins blowing fire straight at their faces," Jim said.
Jared and Wesley, twins, took off running through the wall of fire for help. Their brother Branson stayed with Jon and Janet.
"Branson stays with his parents. The parents are beginning to have real difficulty breathing," Jim said. "They are absolutely surrounded by fire."
Jim said Branson's parents told him to go and survive.
"He was going to stay there and die with his parents. They said you've got to go. We can't go. Save yourself," Jim said.
While Branson was looking for a way out for him and his brothers, his phone rang. The phone call was from the person they rented their chalet from. The person told them to find a house and break the water lines to wet down towels and bedspreads to put over their heads.
The advice may have saved their lives.
The boys found a house and did just what they were told.
"While they are in there, they see the house is now catching on fire," Jim said.
Branson spotted a car with an elderly couple in it while they were running through the fire. The elderly couple gave him a ride, but the car soon stalled.
As soon as they escaped from the car, it exploded.
It was after the car explosion that Branson's brothers found him on the ground, stripped of his clothes.
"Branson is lying on the ground. He is in a fetal position. He doesn't have any clothes on," Jim said.
All three brothers, now back together, were in the middle of a firestorm with heavy smoke. They were unable to see because of the smoke and the darkness, but they started running down the mountain regardless.
"They begin rolling and tumbling and falling and scratching and running into trees all the way down. They get to the creek," Jim said.
The courageous brothers finally saw police lights and rushed for help.
"We're burned badly. We need help," they told police.
According to Jim, that's all the brothers remember of that day until they woke up in a hospital bed at Vanderbilt Hospital's burn unit.
The brothers have a long road to recovery ahead of them. It will take a year for them to recover from their burns and skin grafts. They are anxious to get back out in the world.