Black Hawk helicopters help fight massive Pigeon Forge fire - 14 News, WFIE, Evansville, Henderson, Owensboro

Black Hawk helicopters help fight massive Pigeon Forge fire

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Courtesy: WBIR-TV Courtesy: WBIR-TV
Source: WBIR-TV (Courtesy: Paul Comeaux) Source: WBIR-TV (Courtesy: Paul Comeaux)
Source: WBIR-TV (Courtesy: John Helt) Source: WBIR-TV (Courtesy: John Helt)

Firefighters have reduced a massive fire to half its size in Pigeon Forge.

The fire started around 4:00 p.m. on Sunday at Black Bear Ridge Resort and Trappers Ridge.  At one time it burned across 135 acres.  

Crews worked throughout the night to prevent it from spreading.  

Monday morning, the Tennessee Army National Guard lent the service of its Black Hawk helicopters to airlift water from Douglas Lake to douse the flames.

Several vacationing families were evacuated including Diane Conneeli and her family.  

"We thank God we're alive and everyone is safe and our possessions can be replaced. And again we had a great week here and great people down here. Hopefully we'll be back," she said.

Update 1:00 a.m.

Firefighter departments from several counties and the Tennessee Division of Forestry continue to battle a massive fire in Pigeon Forge overnight.

Sevier County Fire Department confirmed that the fire damaged at least 35 cabins near Black Bear Ridge Resort and Trappers Ridge at this time.

Pigeon Forge Fire Chief Tony Watson said his department used lots of resources fighting flames covering 200 to 300 acres.

"It's been rough.  It's been rough as I've ever seen it," said Watson.

Weather conditions failed to provide relief for crews struggling to contain the blaze.

"You gotta understand, it jumped across a road, several roads, and now it's racing up a hill," explained Watson.  "Luckily, the humidity, the temperatures dropped.  We're still not under control, but if it was earlier in the day, we'd still be in worse shape."

Crews evacuated the area, and Watson said there are no injuries at this time.

"Everybody that I know of has not been injured," confirmed Watson.  "This is by the luck of God and prayer that we've not been able to get that."

Officials said they believe a cabin fire at the Bear Ridge Resort ignited the massive fire at approximately 4:00 p.m.  Authorities still don't know what sparked the fire inside the cabin. Watson said the fire spread quickly, which made for dangerous conditions.

"These houses are put close together up there.  The first portion of this started out as a house fire. . . it led to several other next to it catching on fire," Watson said.  "Propane tanks have been exploding.  It's been a real dangerous."

Firefighters placed tankers on the scene carrying water to put out the flames. Officials used helicopters to extinguish the fire from a higher altitude as well.

"We're a long way from home.  We're going to be going into multiple operations for the next couple of days," said Watson.  "We're not even able to say this fire's under control.  We are not under control."

Tennessee Highway Patrol, Sevier County Sheriff's Office and Pigeon Forge Fire Department are helping with evacuation efforts and keeping people out of the danger zone.

Watson said people who live in Pigeon Forge, Waldens Creek, Wears Valley area, and Lost Branch area need to pay attention to the conditions.

"What I've been telling people, 'If you see the fire get close to your home call 911," said Watson.  "If you live in those areas right there, you need to be packing up some stuff and be ready to go, so if somebody knocks on your door, you're ready to get out quickly."

Agencies from all over East Tennessee and churches organized relief efforts throughout Sunday.

The American Red Cross opened an emergency shelter at the Pigeon Forge Community Center for people displaced by the fire. Red Cross volunteers also staffed an emergency relief vehicle to assist the area.

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