WALLAND (WATE) – A wildfire continues to burn in Walland for the fourth day, growing to 1,055 acres, Nov. 20.
The fire is currently 75 percent contained, according to the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, but experts said it will likely be days before the fire is out.
The threat of the fire prompting Walland Elementary to close its doors again Nov. 21, for a third day.
“People will be seeing some smoke today, but don’t panic,” Nathan Waters, Division of Forestry, said.
Crews focused their efforts Sunday on defense, using controlled burns and fire retardant to contain the fire where it is and stop it from spreading further.
“They’re going in and they’re burning out all the brush and leaves and anything that could serve as fuel for the wildfire, so when the fire gets to that break, then it stops because it runs out of fuel,” Lance Coleman, Blount County Emergency Management director, said.
Though flames continue to expand smoke thicken, Waters said progress has been made.
“The runs that the air tankers made yesterday on top of the rain that we got really put the fire to bed in some places put it out, in other places slowed it down, so we’ve been able to get a head of it and put some good lines in it,” Waters said.
Still, crews admit the end is still days away, with the fire growing more than 1,000 acres.
“It’s continuing to burn. It’s a mountain, it’s very hard to get up there. It’s very hard to contain, It’s a large area to try and contain, so the numbers are going to continue to grow, because it’s a mountain,” Doug McClanahan, Blount County Fire Chief, said.
It’s a fire that has firefighters, volunteers and residents all praying for rain.
“The top of the ground is wet right now but if you get beneath the ground and look, where the roots are, it’s still dry and what we need is a good soaking rain to soak it out,” Water said.