VIDEO: Rural/Metro firefighters capture chilling video of Gatlinburg fires

(source: Rural/Metro Fire Department)

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Rural/Metro firefighters from Knoxville went to Sevier County to help fight the wildfires, shooting some dramatic video of the fires while they were there.

“Little did I know I would be standing in downtown Gatlinburg as the town burned over,” said Lt. Benjamin Evans.

When Lt. Evans and Battalion Chief Jonathan Rood with Rural/Metro went to Gatlinburg two weeks ago they did not know what to expect.

“There really are no words that express adequately what we saw that night,” Rood said.

Rood led three strike teams to the mountains to help fight the fires. Their first assignment was protecting park headquarters.

“We spent the next three or four hours just kind of watching the fire glow over the mountain,” Rood said.

As the winds picked up the situation changed drastically, and they got sent to protect First Baptist Church on Highway 321. As they drove they realized just how bad things were getting. Flames were consuming the hillsides and everything on them.

“Three hours before that nothing was on fire, just downtown smoky,” Rood said.

By then, the scene around them was unbelievable.

“It felt war-like. Destruction, devastation everywhere,” Evans said.

Men who spend their lives fighting fires were in disbelief as they watched it take over everything around them.

“So much to do that there was an overwhelming feeling of where do you start,” Evans said.

They spent about 14 hours overnight watching fire take over the town and in awe of their comrades in Gatlinburg working to defend their home from the inferno.

“Those guys would return for new assignments and go back out into the thick of it and return for new assignments,” Evans said. “It really does put life into a new perspective when you watch men who are attempting to defend their castle lose it.”

The firefighters worked as teams to protect what they could. First Baptist Church is still standing. Rural/Metro said they also helped protect what was left of Westgate Resorts as well as keep fire from taking over Dollywood.

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