Gatlinburg, Tenn. — Married 58 years, Daryl and Robert Hullander have many stories to tell including one they say brought them closer together.
The night of November 28, they had no choice but to escape their bed and breakfast off Campbell Lead Road in a moments notice. A wildfire was quickly approaching their property.
"It was getting dark and there was fire on both ends of Campbell Lead so going down the hill seemed to be the obvious answer and that’s what we did," Robert said.
They escaped the fire by scaling down the side of the mountain holding hands the entire time.
They survived together and say that experience has brought them closer together.
“We’ve been married a long time and it’s like you wouldn't know what to do without her being here. Really and truly it’s part of you," Robert added.
Their bed and breakfast had a breathtaking view. It was their home, their oasis in the mountains and now it's an empty lot.
"It's sort of like a runway behind you. It's gone. We miss things but we don't dwell on it too much really. It's mostly a scary bad memory that we like to get over," Robert said.
They reflect on the night that could have ended much worse. Just down the road, another couple, Marilyn and John Tegler, who tried to escape on foot, did not survive.
Knowing that, weighs heavy on the Hullander's hearts.
"Well you don't realize what the loss could be until the loss is pushed on you, you know. Like something could have happened and that would have really changed your life," Robert said.
Now the Hullanders have a new home in Farragut and they are closer to their daughter Terese who is battling cancer.
Nearly a year later, they reflect on the decision they made together that night, just keep going.
"If anything it brought us closer because to share something like that," Daryl said because it really takes a strong love to stick together.
The Hullanders still own their property. They are not going to rebuild but they are hoping someone will want to build a restaurant there because they believe it's the best view in the city.