Gatlinburg firefighters selflessly help others during wildfires

GATLINBURG (WATE) – Christmas cards and thank you notes from children all over the country line the walls of the Gatlinburg Fire Department. They mean the world to Chief Greg Miller, the man whose calm presence in the midst of the firestorm Helped people to stay focused first on rescue, and now on recovery and healing, which will take some time.

“Now that the fires are out, the conditions aren’t any better for the searchers. We still desire your prayers,” said Miller in a December 1 press conference.

WATE 6 On Your Side visited Miller this week to see how he and his crew are doing.

“We’re doing okay. It’s just the scope of this disaster and now that we’re in that recovery phase, and we’re working with FEMA. It’s all about documents and we’re trying to get the residents and the visitors the aid that they need and the response to this has been overwhelming,” he said.

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Training Officer Amanda Perryman lost her own home on Loop Road in the devastated Roaring Fork area, but it didn’t stop her from reporting for duty.

“It was a little hard when we first come in because I was trying to focus on you know, what we need to do for the fire department as firefighters. And knowing in the back of my mind my home’s probably burning at this point because as firefighters, we came in and got deployed to other parts of the city to help,” she said. “You just look in every direction and everything was on fire it seemed like. And it was just, even being a firefighter and being in the middle of that it was hard to believe all that was happening.”

Previous story: First responders, firefighters who saved couple at resort during Gatlinburg fire recognized

Capt. Wayne Brandenburg helped orchestrate the now famous elevator rescue at Westgate Resorts – hearing cries for help and calling for a water curtain around the elevator so that crews could make the rescue.

“It makes me feel good that the people are alive. That’s the main thing and nobody got hurt during that rescue. I was really afraid it wouldn’t turn out the way it did from what I seen when we first got there, but I’m very very thankful it turned out the way it did,” he said.

WATE 6 On Your Side presented the Hero Award to Chief Miller and the entire Gatlinburg Fire Department for everything they did to save lives and the city of Gatlinburg.

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