Local Fire Emergency

 by John Woodward
g_burg_fireAs Tuesday morning dawns here in Pigeon Forge, gentle rain continues to fall. It arrived like a rescuing cavalry last night at about 10:15 pm.
The crisis became known to us when I noticed a wall of smokey fog rolling in mid morning. We heard about Gatlinburg area fires. Later winds picked up…severe winds that fanned the flames, and spread the size, scope and number of fires. As we prayed and kept vigil the smoke worsened and winds continued. Sounds of emergency vehicles filled the air for hours.
In the afternoon Gatlinburg began to be evacuated. By early evening the south edge of town–including the area of Grace Fellowship’s building–received emergency evacuation notice. We know many firefighters. Crews kept arriving from the surrounding region valiantly trying to contain the fires in spite of high winds and low visibility.
Local TV kept reporting the developments of the fires and the weather. We live at the northwest edge of town and we could see an orange fire glow on clouds south of us. Then at about 9:45 flames crested the ridge two miles south of us (that we view from our house). I checked on our neighbor who was preparing to evacuate. Prayers continued.
Just as I was considering evacuating our family and my next door mother-in-law, the predicted rain arrived and the flames in view gradually went out. Hallelujah!
This morning gentle rain continues to fall and the winds have mostly subsided, but GFI’s block is still under evacuation notice and this morning. News is coming in of Gatlinburg (the next town south of us) which lost quite a few buildings to fire–some are still being fought. One of our friends from Dollywood lost her home (about 100 homes burned). The Solomons homes were safe in Wears Valley but they lost electrical power for a while.
We hear that rain is expected to end later today and winds may increase, but then more desperately needed rain should arrive with nightfall. Thank you for your concern and prayers!
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