Firefighters battle Hawkins County brush fire by land and air

Jeff Bobo • Oct 15, 2007 at 12:00 AM

MOORESBURG — Firefighters battled a large Hawkins County brush fire from land and air Monday as the Tennessee Division of Forestry dropped fire retardant chemicals throughout the day from a Lockheed C-130 airplane.

Their efforts kept flames from damaging occupied residences in the Dean Road area south of Mooresburg near the Grainger County line.

Other west Hawkins County areas affected by the fire included Purkey Road, Stubblefield Road and Repass Road.

Hawkins County Emergency Management Agency Director Gary Murrell said the fire started Sunday evening when the Tennessee Valley Authority’s main transmission lines fell. As of Monday afternoon at least 150 acres had been burned, and Murrell said it was still burning.

“It started out as a little brush fire, and it has escalated to this magnitude,” Murrell said from the fire scene. “It went big quick. It’s still burning, and it’s not under control. It was headed west when the wind shifted, and now it’s headed northeast, and forestry is flying in C-130s dropping fire retardant material near these residences.

“We’ve had three homes evacuated, but we’ve got enough fire departments here to protect the structures while forestry is trying to contain the brush fire.”

The occupants of the residences gathered some of their belongings and went to stay with relatives, Murrell said. Smoke was thick in the area and could be seen as far away as Newport in one direction and Stanley Valley in the other direction.

Flames got as close as 20 feet to one of the occupied residences and actually destroyed an abandoned mobile home and adjoining shed.

Thanks to the efforts of firefighters, by Monday evening flames had been beaten back to about 170 feet from several residences and were being held off.

“We could use some rain, but I don’t think we’re going to get it,” Murrell said. “Right now they’re planning another drop at the north end of the fire, and then they’re going to put people in there on the ground checking the fire lines to see if they can control it that way. This fire will be burning tomorrow. There’s no way it’s going to go out tonight.”

Several volunteer fire departments were assisting state forestry officials at the scene including Stanley Valley, Bulls Gap, Lakeview, Striggersville and Bean Station. Other departments in Hawkins County were helping cover the territory of the departments fighting the brush fire.

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