Members of the East Hamblen County Volunteer Fire Department, along with workers with the Tennessee Division of Forestry, spent six-and-a-half hours beginning Sunday evening in a water-less assault on a forest fire in a remote part of the county near Cherokee Lake, Chief Ricky Purkey said this morning.
“For it to be a mile-and-a-half in woods, it would seem understandable there was a human factor, but again, the cause is undetermined at this time,” said Purkey, who added East Hamblen County has been plagued by a series of apparent arson fires in recent years.
The blaze, which started on Tennessee Valley Authority-owned land north of Mullins Road, was confined to approximately 2 acres. Purkey says firefighters had no access to water to extinguish the conflagration on the steeply sloping land. If it had not been for a forestry bulldozer used to cut a fire break, putting out the fire would have been much tougher job, according to Purkey.
Purkey also said that light winds helped limit the spread.
Hamblen County Emergency Management Agency Director Chris Bell and EMA volunteers were also dispatched to the fire. The fire was reported around 7:25 p.m. and firefighters didn’t clear until around 2 a.m. The blaze was adjacent to a bluff overlooking Cherokee Lake.