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A stairwell is all that remains of 48 condos that burned last week. The fire was ruled an accident
A massive fire that swept across English Mountain last week has been ruled an accident by Sevier County Fire officials.
The fire broke out last Tuesday at the English Mountain condos and ripped through four of the 10 buildings, destroying 48 homes and consuming more than 300 acres of forests. It took fire crews several days to get it under control after it spread into the forest nearby.
The wildfire had, at one time, threatened approximately 20 homes. Firefighters from every agency in Sevier County converged on a ridge atop English mountain to battle the blaze. As the torrent of flames became more intense, helicopters were brought in to dump water retrieved from Douglas Lake onto the inferno. Firefighters experienced a perfect storm of difficulties that further impeded their efforts. Among those difficulties was a shortage of water and brisk winds that fueled the flames and quickly spread it to the forest across the county line into Cocke County.
“We had over 50 fire departments respond over the course of two days,” said Bob Stahlke, who acted as spokesperson for emergency responders. “More than 200 people responded to the blaze.”
By Tuesday afternoon, the four buildings initially involved were reduced to smoldering rubble, and woodland areas on the mountainside across from the complex and even over the top of the ridge were alight.
On Wednesday a forest fire ignited by blowing embers from the condo fire continued at the top and down the opposite side of the mountain in areas virtually inaccessible to vehicles and firefighters. Forestry crews built a line around the woods fire in Cocke Co. and the fire burned out Friday.
While firefighting efforts at a Sevier County condominium complex came to a close Wednesday, residents lucky enough to escape the inferno still were not being allowed to go home, officials said. Across the mountain massive clouds of smoke billowed up from the scene.
Stahlke said though the battle was being "de-escalated" near the ruins of four 12-unit condo buildings that burned to the ground Tuesday, the English Mountain Volunteer Fire Department determined those living in the remaining six buildings would have to pass too close to smoldering, smoking debris to be allowed to resume habitation there. They would be allowed into their condos to retrieve essentials, while escorted by fire officials, but cannot yet move back in. Until they can return the American Red Cross is helping them find housing.
Firefighters continued battling a blaze near English Mountain Tuesday afternoon and went door to door asking residents to vacate the property. The fire was mostly contained by the afternoon but spawned another blaze that kept firefighters on teh scene for several more hours.
Matt Lovitt, a training officer for several Sevier County fire departments, stated the fire that began Tuesday morning and destroyed four buildings at English Mountain Condominium Resort. Each building contained 24 condos.
Firefighters on the scene dealt with a lack of water and steep, curvy mountain roads which made the trek up the mountain hazardous for tanker trucks.
Westerly winds of 15-25 mph complicated matters for firefighters. The forecast for Wednesday was much the same — a windy day with little chance of rain.
Firefighters from several departments fought the blaze. Authorities closed some roads and there were reports of electrical power failing on the mountain. Firefighters were going cabin to cabin, telling people to evacuate.
Firefighters said they were completely out of water by late morning.In an attempt to halt the spread of the blaze, the Tennessee Forestry Division used bulldozers to cut fire lines.
"The department has not been issuing burn permits because of dry woods conditions and he asked residents to not burn debris because firefighters might be sent to those controlled fires instead of concentrating on the wildfire.
Scott McCarter works hard on a hot day to sell the Sam & Kate Huff Estate in Jones Cove, brother Joe lends a hand in the auction ring.
Scott McCarter and McCarter Auction Co. sold the 300 acre Sam & Kate Huff Estate today in Jones Cove. The total sales price for the real estate portion of the estate was $930,050.00. The farm included 5 homes 4 barns a mile of creek frontage over 100 acres of flat pasture lands. This was an old fashion 4th of July Weekend sale. There was a lunch provided and Ed Mcarter was on hand to keep a large supply of ice cold watermelons cut for the crowd. If you have never attended an auction pick one and go have fun.
A large crowd was on hand.
More photos after the break.
A structure fire has been reported at 3306 Nunns Cove Road off of Sharp Rd. in the New Center area at 1:40 pm this afternoon. Both New Center Volunteer Fire Department and Sevier County Volunteer Fire Department have responded.
UPDATES TO FOLLOW:
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Approximate location of reported fire.
This rainy weekend will be a great time to vist the Smoky Mountain Home Show at the Sevierville Event Center. Because of the slower pace in building now is perfect time to think about a new home or a remodeling project. The show is open Friday night and all day on Saturday. Many vendors offer free advice if you have any home issues to discuss and many have great door prizes.
The Blalock Companies restored 1961 Mack Truck on view at the Home Show. This was one of Charlie Blalock's first tractors.
Charlie Busler and Darin of Sears Contract Sales.
Kenny Loomis and daughter Becky Moore go over new home plans with interested attendee at the Smoky Mountain Home Show.
More Photos after the JUMP.
Workers clear wreckage from an afternoon collision in front of Sevier County High School around 2 p.m.
A head-on auto collision has been reported at Sevier County High School about 20 minutes ago.
Update 2:11 p.m.
Two cars crashed in a head on collision earlier this afternoon shortly after Sevier County High School released students because of the weather.
It is unclear as of this time if either of the drivers were students. As of this time, both drivers' conditions are unkown.