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Rocky Top fire burns 397 acres

Refrain from burning requested

Tennessee’s Division of Forestry finally was able to put an end to the wildfire on ridges overlooking Rocky Top last Thursday morning after fighting the blaze on several fronts for more than four days.

As of mid-morning Thursday, the wildfire was “sitting at 397 acres” and was “100%” contained, according to the Division of Forestry.

“Forestry crews have remained on scene to continue clearing lines of the fall foliage that has fallen to the ground,” the department’s announcement said. “The forestry crews estimate that they have cut roughly 5.1 miles of fire line around this wildfire since it was first reported Saturday evening.

“Our firefighters, whether they are from our local volunteer or municipal departments, as well as the crews from the Tennessee Division of Forestry, have played a very important role in efforts to contain this wildfire and, most importantly, to protect the properties and lives of so many of our residents,” Anderson County Emergency Management Agency Director Brice Kidwell said.

“Without the dedication and hard work of each of them, 52 homes and 43 outbuildings could have been lost to this blaze,” said Leean Tupper, public information officer for the county EMA.

“We want to thank all of those who have worked so tirelessly to ensure that our community is safe and to bring this wildfire under control,” she said.

Also, the county EMA “strongly encourages all residents to refrain from burning any outside debris, utilizing outdoor gas or charcoal grills, or starting campfires or bonfires,” Tupper said.

“The Tennessee Division of Forestry currently is not issuing any burn permits.”

For the duration of the fire, nearby residents kept a worried look on the visible flames and large plumes of smoke rising off mountain ridges just west of the city over the weekend as a wildfire raged out of control from Walden’s Ridge to Andy’s Ridge.

Fratersville was the closest community to the fire, resident Irene Harmon said, and that made her and her neighbors quite nervous.

“We could see not only the smoke, but the fire, too, from outside our homes,” she told The Courier News. “It was no more than about one-third of a mile away from us.

“We were all packed up and ready to go in case it looked like it was going to come toward our house,” she said. “We could see it very clearly.”

But on Wednesday, after the Forestry Division reported that the fire was 95% contained, she said she and her neighbors were no longer worried about it.

“We had one neighbor who did pack up and move stuff out of their house because they were closer to the fire than we were,” she said.