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Officials: 81 buildings, 161 acres burned in Sevier Co. mountain fire

4:01 PM, Mar 19, 2013   |    comments
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Photo courtesy of Ashlyn Whaley.

Sevier County officials now say that 81 buildings were destroyed or damaged in that massive 161 acre fire in the Black Bear Ridge Resort off Wears Valley Road.

Rain on Monday afternoon finally helped extinguish the blaze, which 300 firefighters and emergency workers from nearly 50 agencies had battled for nearly 24 hours.

Everyone staying in the mountain homes were evacuated, and none of them were hurt. Two firefighters were injured, on for heat exhaustion and the other for an ankle injury.

Resort homeowners wanting more information about the fire should contact blackbearridgehoa@yahoo.com. Resort guests should contact the rental companies that booked their stay.  

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The fire on a Pigeon Forge mountain off Wears Valley Road is 100% contained, according to fire officials.  There are still a few hot spots that firefighters are monitoring.  Because of that and the wind, firefighters say the fire is 80% contained.

Officials will be allowing property owners and renters up on the mountain with an escort.  They say there is a lot of debris in the roads and some of the burned structures are not safe, so it's not safe for people to drive up there on their own.  People who would like to be escorted up to check on their property are asked to stop by the command post on Wears Valley Road to ask for an escort.

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People who want to check on their property or try to recover belongings may be allowed back to their cabins today, according to Sevier County Emergency Management Director John Matthews.

But Matthews says the badly damaged areas will remain closed.

Until this morning evacuation orders were in effect for residents displaced by what was once a massive Pigeon Forge fire.

Matthews says of the 160 burned acres, only several isolated hot spots are still smoldering.

At the time of this posting, only a handful of firefighters were still monitoring the fire.

Matthews says power crews are on the scene to reconnect electricity to houses that are unaffected.

He says law enforcement will still quarantine the cabins burned by the fire because of safety concerns.

But those whose property remains intact will be escorted around today to recoup belongings.

By Monday morning firefighters had knocked out nearly half of the 300 acre fire.

But they weren't taking any chances.  They called in Black Hawk helicopters that made more than 60 trips to Douglas Lake nearby scooping up tons of water to douse the flames.

Still, for many properties on the mountain, it was too late.

The community rallied around those affected as well as the firefighters, keeping them safe.

Volunteers organized a command center at Calvary Baptist Church.

They worked around the clock to keep emergency workers and displaced fire victims fed. 

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