Local crews work to douse flames

Jeremy Nash and Jonathan Herrmann News-Herald.net

Multiple fire departments worked Monday night to combat flames throughout Loudon County.

Loudon County E-911 Director Jennifer Estes said first responders were on scene at a roughly five-acre fire about 7:35 p.m. between Malone and Watkins roads off Highway 72. The fire was fully extinguished at 9:50 p.m.

Fifty-eight responders helped with the fire, including Loudon County Fire & Rescue, Greenback Volunteer Fire Department, Loudon Fire Department, Tellico Village Volunteer Fire Department, Philadelphia Volunteer Fire Department, Lenoir City Fire Department and some from Monroe County.

“Mainly due to just the area involved — it was all a brush area right there off Highway 72 between Watkins Road and Steekee School Road and there was no structures involved,” Loudon Fire Chief Mike Brubaker said. “It was all contained to just the vegetation and leaves and things of that nature.”
A cause of the fire has not been determined, Brubaker said. No structural damage or injuries occurred.
“There was not really a good way of us telling where it even started last night because it was kind of large when we got on scene because the wind was taking it so quickly to intensity, so we didn’t have a whole lot of time to determine where it even could have started possibly,” Brubaker said. “... The wind was crazy. It took in size from — can’t even tell you the size of the fire it went from in just a matter of minutes because of the wind conditions.”
While unable to determine what caused the damages in Loudon, officials are saying a downed Tennessee Valley Authority power line resulted in a roughly six-acre fire between Harrison Hills and Hotchkiss Valley Road. Crews worked 8:38 p.m. to 1:57 a.m. to douse the flames, Estes said.
Estes said firefighters also had to put out 50-60 hay bales that were on fire. Roane County firefighters joined the other departments in Lenoir City.
“What happened we had a tree fall on a TVA high voltage line, 69,000 line, and it took everything down in that part of Lenoir City,” Eddie Simpson, Lenoir City Utilities Board member, said. “They got it back up in about an hour and a half or so except some. They didn’t (bring) everything back up, but they got most of it back up by that time.”
Simpson said TVA and LCUB crews worked to repair the downed line that occurred about 8:30-9 p.m.
“There was quite a bit of fire. It was quite a fire,” Simpson said. “They had a lot houses of threatened, at least half a dozen that I can think about that was getting it real close to one of them. It got within 50 foot or so of one of them.”
No structural damage or injuries were reported, Estes said.
“I do know they were doing some protective measures for some structures, some houses in that area, but they were able to contain it so that they weren’t involved,” Estes said.
LCUB General Manager Shannon Littleton said the downed power line left downtown Lenoir City and a “small surrounding area” without power at some point throughout the night. About 4,700-4,800 customers were affected.
“The longest — of course, we had some customers that, and it was intermittent, but some were out an hour or two and some that were out to 2 or 3 o’clock this morning, but we’re not sure when power went out for those people,” Littleton said. “Lenoir City, the large outage we had last night was an hour or two hours.”
Wind may have played a role in the downed line, Littleton said.
“We’ve got a few issues that we’re operating in abnormal conditions right now, but it’s nothing that customers should be worried about,” Littleton said. “It’s something we would do routinely for maintenance. ... We’re working to get things back to normal operating. ... Once we get a little healthy today and get some rest, we’re going to start focusing our attention to our neighbors in Gatlinburg and see if we can offer any help.”