ENGLEWOOD (WATE) – At the height of the wildfires in Sevier County the week of November 28, the Englewood Fire Department in McMinn County was literally racing against time. They had the fires and then the tornado that did so much damage in Athens.
It was one of the worst weeks in East Tennessee history with not only the fires, but in the middle of it all, an EF-2 tornado that wiped out most of Deerfield Estates neighborhood in McMinn County. Around 100 homes were damaged or destroyed and 20 people were hurt – including Amber Newman, a pregnant woman who was thrown from her home and delivered her baby at the hospital soon after her rescue.
“We had to walk across trees, walk around them, under them, everything we could think of just to get to those people,” said volunteer firefighter-in-training Savana Casteel.
Thanks to a combined effort between this group and others in the area, Newman and baby Avianna, born just hours after the rescue, are doing just fine.
Previous story: Baby born during McMinn County tornado
The Englewood Fire Department managed to cover both the tornado and the wildfires.
“Fortunately, we have about 25 members in our department and great mutual aid departments around us that all helped. We all try to work together,” said Chief Billy Roach.
It was all about teamwork. One of Chief Roach’s crew who helped with fire and storm damage was his 20-year-old son Josh.
Drone video: Athens still cleaning up after tornado
“It was a rapid deployment, so I guess we had five or ten minutes to run home, get our stuff, tell our loved ones goodbye and get on the truck and go,” said Josh Roach.
It’s a close knit group who share a passion for helping others, including children at Christmas. There were rows of toys at the station they’re collection to hand out to children just in time for Christmas.
FULL INTERVIEWS: Englewood Fire Department
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WATE 6 On Your Side honored the Englewood Fire Department with the Hero Award for everything they did for victims of both the tornado and the wildfires.