PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (WATE) – It’s been nearly one year since the Sevier County wildfires hit the Great Smoky Mountains. The city of Pigeon Forge on Tuesday honored those who served on the front lines that night with a first responder reunion.
More than 200 firefighters from all over Tennessee came to Pigeon Forge for a luncheon. Almost 40 departments of the nearly 70 that answered the call from Pigeon Forge that night attended. During the luncheon, Pigeon Forge fire chief helped call up each department to give them a token and say thank you.
“Could not have made it without them. We were getting overwhelmed with the amount of calls we were getting in,” said Chief Tony Watson.
Some fire departments came from the Nashville area, including the Spring Hill Fire Department. Battalion Chief Kevin Glenn said this reunion was special to him because he got a chance to catch up with firefighters he hadn’t seen since last year.
“I didn’t realize it, but one of the Arrington Fire Department members snuck in and he was in our deployment. They had a tanker with us to supplement our water supply,” said Glenn.
They all gathered in a more joyous setting. For most, the table talk wasn’t for sharing painful memories of that night.
“A lot of those situations were compartmentalized cause we run so many calls. A lot of it is behind us,” said John Lisenbigler, chief of the Seymour Fire Department.
Schoolchildren also shared their gratitude by painting rocks and writing cards to their heroes. Later that evening, first responders gathered at Patriot Park for a special presentation. The city of Pigeon Forge and the Pigeon Forge Fire Department unveiled a new memorial in honor of the firefighters who answered the call that night.