DEL RIO (WATE) – A wildfire that burned more than 1,000 acres in Cocke County is now 100 percent contained, according to the Tennessee Department of Agriculture.
Two people voluntarily evacuated from their homes over the weekend, according to the EMA director, as crews worked to put out the fire on Neddy Mountain. No structures were lost.
The Tennessee Department of Transportation temporarily shut down Highway 25/70 Monday to allow for some controlled burns. The decision to close Highway 25/70 came after crews realized the extent of the rocks and the roll out.
Crews have been working tirelessly to keep the fire controlled.
“I think on this fire we actually have about 40 percent of the line is dozer line and the rest of it’s hand line so it’s all done manually with hand tools,” said Cliff King, forest technician for Cocke County.
“It’s so dry that people just to be cognizant of what they’re doing. Farm trackers set fires, people having a flat tire on the road and they pull off the road sparks from the wheel on the tire where it went flat set fires, bush [fires]… it’s just unbelievable how easy it is to start a fire when its this dry,” said Forester Robert Rhinehart.
Cocke County emergency personnel have advised to avoid unnecessary traffic in the area due to safety concerns.
“This was a human caused fire. Which means it was not a natural start, by lightening or any other natural source. I think [folks] that start these fires, don’t realize the danger they’re putting people’s lives in,” said Leslie Morgan, District Ranger.
The start of the fire is suspected to be arson, but is under investigation. Even with the reopening of the road and the containing of the flames, Neddy Mountain is not out of the woods yet.
“We haven’t had 40 percent of leaf fall yet, so, as the leaves fall down and we have needle cast that covers our lines, we have to go back and maintain those lines to keep the fire in check.”
King says they will continue to monitor the area for the next four weeks.