GATLINBURG (WATE) – A woman who went into labor the night of the wildfires in Gatlinburg was able to escape and deliver her baby safely, despite the chaos. The baby is best known by the name Blaze.
Autumn Bales was nine months pregnant on Monday, November 28, set to be induced the following Sunday. She and her husband Billy woke up to their city engulfed in smoke. They tossed around the idea of leaving tow, but ultimately headed to to Billy Bales’s grandparents’ house a few miles down the road.
“I was watching the fire come up and take the phone tower,” said Autumn Bales.
A couple hours later, they were evacuated from there. They made it out okay, but Autumn Bales knew the next morning she needed to see her doctor.
“They couldn’t get my blood pressure down,” she said.
Because of the stress of everything going on around her, Autumn Bales was admitted to LeConte Medical Center because her blood pressure wouldn’t stop going up. It wasn’t long after that they told her she was in labor.
“Everybody was talking, you know, like Gatlinburg was gone. For days while I sat in labor with him, that was not my focus,” she said.
The baby was born 38 hours later on December 1, among the chaos and aftermath of the fires. The couple knew his story was special and named him Matthew Blaze Lee Bales.
“He was born into chaos,” said Autumn Bales.
For those around him, his name is a lifelong reminder of the glimmer of hope he was on that chaotic night that brought him into this world.
“You know he’s something special because he kind of brought joy into people’s lives that day,” said Autumn Bales.