Couple, 82, survive by hiking out of fire on foot

Dec. 1, 2016: A married couple who are 82 years old climbed and hiked out of the woods as fire destroyed their neighborhood Monday night. They made it out with only a few scrapes and bruises.

GATLINBURG - A remarkable story of survival emerged this week involving a Gatlinburg couple in their 80s.

Daryl and Robert Hullander escaped on foot when their Campbell Lead Road neighborhood went up in flames. It's the same road on which authorities found several victims in the aftermath.

The couple, who operated a bed and breakfast, have been married 57 years. Together, they hiked down amid flames to reach safety.

They had just a few moments' notice to get out.

"We are 82 years old. Going down a mountain is not on the exercise list," Daryl Hullander said.

"Fire was blowing across the road, so I didn't know of another way to get down from where we were easy," Robert Hullander said. "So you just cover up your mouth and we'll run right straight through it."

It was the only reasonable way to go -- down a hill, in the darkness. They had to feel their way down.

"You put one foot in front of the other and you just keep on going and if you fall you get up and you keep on going," Robert Hullander said.

Related: Number of dead reaches 13

"He kept yelling at me, Foot first! Foot first! And grab a tree! There's a tree!" Daryl said.

Once they got going, they found they were calm, not panicky or scared. They focused on keeping going.

They've lost everything.

"These are the only clothes I own," Daryl Hullander said.

However, they have each other.

"It's things, you know. You can't buy your body but you can buy things, so you just don't fret about what you've lost," Robert Hullander said.

The Hullanders know they've lost their home. They're hoping to return Friday to check and see if they can salvage anything.

(© 2016 WBIR)


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