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Federal firefighters join in battle against Hawkins blaze

October 17th, 2007 12:00 am by Jeff Bobo

Federal firefighters join in battle against Hawkins blaze





The state forestry division drops fire-retardant materials from a air tanker on a brush fire in far western Hawkins County.


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MOORESBURG — Firefighters from the federal Division of Forestry at Cherokee National Forest joined in the battle Tuesday against a brush fire in far western Hawkins County that continued to spread overnight Monday.


The fire started Sunday evening when Tennessee Valley Authority power lines fell near Dean Road south of Mooresburg near the Grainger County line.


By Monday evening 150 acres had burned, and as of late Tuesday it was over 200 acres.


Although more property is expected to burn before it’s over, the fire had been contained by Tuesday evening, according to Hawkins County Emergency Management Agency Director Gary Murrell.


The “Cherokee Hot Shots” — as the federal firefighters are known — had the fire surrounded late Tuesday and were lighting backfires to head off further advances of the flames.


“They said there will be 250 to 350 acres of scorched land by the time it’s over, but the property damage has been kept to a minimum,” Murrell said. “The state, and now the federal forestry people, have been fighting the brush fire while the local fire departments stood watch over the residences that were being threatened. It got pretty close to one place, but they stopped it.”


Back-burning was taking place near one residence Tuesday afternoon, and the Lakeview Volunteer Fire Department was on hand protecting that residence from fire.


One residence was evacuated Monday, and the occupants of two other residences weren’t permitted to go home Monday evening due to the fire danger. A fourth resident refused to leave.


Several volunteer fire departments were on hand protecting the residences overnight Monday.


The three families that didn’t stay home Monday night were back home on Tuesday, however.


The only known damage, aside from scorched trees and other vegetation, was an unknown number of TVA power poles and an abandoned mobile home and outbuilding.


Murrell estimated that more than 75 firefighters worked the fire Monday, and no injuries were reported. Murrell didn’t have manpower figures for the Cherokee firefighters on site Tuesday.


The state forestry division dropped fire-retardant materials on the blaze from a Lockheed C-130 airplane.


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