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Forest fire in Hawkins believed to be arson

Jeff Bobo • Mar 18, 2008 at 12:00 AM

ROGERSVILLE — Authorities believe a forest fire in a remote part of Hawkins County north of Rogersville was started intentionally Monday evening along the side of a road near the old Pressmen’s Home in the Camelot community.

As of midday Tuesday, nearly 200 acres of mountainous terrain had been destroyed by fire, and flames were threatening two residences in a remote hollow in Poor Valley.

Actually the wind had started to blow the fire away from the residences by early afternoon, but firefighters were still on hand to protect the homes because winds were changing direction frequently.

Hawkins County Emergency Management Agency Director Gary Murrell said that by late afternoon firefighters from Striggersville and Lakeview, as well as from the State Forestry Division, had fire lines encircling the blaze and were hoping it would burn itself out.

Murrell said the fire was intentionally set beside Hoglot Road in the Camelot community and burned straight up the side of the mountain.

Firefighters were dispatched to the fire at about 5:30 p.m. Monday and were able to contain the fire on three sides before nightfall.

“We all stayed there until shortly before midnight (Monday), and it had burned right at 150 acres by then,” Murrell said. “We had it contained every direction except the north side toward Poor Valley. There was no way to get at it there at the time.

“This (Tuesday) morning Forestry called and said the winds had shifted and it was threatening a couple of homes and barns right before Poor Valley Creek Road on Hoglot Road.”

The fire got as close as 300 feet from the homes before being headed off.

The biggest obstacle for firefighters was the terrain. In many areas it was too steep for firefighters to traverse, and bulldozers had no access.

Tuesday evening firefighters had the fire contained and were setting backfires in hopes of halting its progress.

There was no further information about the arson aspect of the fire as of Tuesday evening.

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