Firefighters battle suspicious blaze
Firefighters were busy over the weekend battling a number of blazes in the area.
A fire spotted Friday on Rag Mountain in the Grassy Fork community of Cocke County is suspicious in origin.
Flames destroyed acreage in the Cherokee National Forest as well as private property before the blaze was brought under control on Sunday.
Officer Nick Vines of the U.S. Forest Law Enforcement said more than 50 acres of mountainous terrain burned before a control line was completed around the burn.
“We have three bulldozers from the Tennessee Division of Forestry working at the site, pulling back the leaf litter so that the fire cannot spread along the ground,” Vines said Sunday afternoon.
About 20 firefighters from the state division, Cocke County Fire Department and the Grassy Fork Volunteer Fire Department were working at the site.
Vines said he is working with detectives from the Cocke County Sheriff’s Department in the investigation.
All of the fire units in Cocke County, including the Newport Fire Department, and a number of units from Jefferson County also responded to a major fire in a Sevier County resort reported at about 4 p.m. Sunday.
Sevier County firefighters were overwhelmed by the fast moving flames in the Black Bear Resort, which by this morning had destroyed 35 cabins and 300 acres on Pine Mountain.
Located off Wears Valley Road, just west of Pigeon Forge, the mountainside features hundreds of cabins, primarily catering to tourists.
Although no injuries were reported, Sevier County spokesperson Perrin Anderson said the American Red Cross has set up an evacuation center for those forced to leave.
-By Ray Snader, Tribune Correspondent