Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Knoxville cmployees among the many rushing help to Sevier County: 3,100 hours at fire scene by KFD, KPD

Many communities rushed help in all forms – firefighters, search-and-rescue teams, food, supplies, prayers and charitable donations – to Sevier County communities devastated by the Nov. 28 wildfires.

Knoxville families, schools, churches and businesses contributed generously.

The City of Knoxville, alongside many other cities and agencies, lent its firefighting and emergency management expertise and equipment.

The Knoxville Fire Department dispatched more than 100 firefighters throughout the week as part of the State Mutual Aid System to battle the wildfires and help with the search for missing persons. The first Knoxville firefighters arrived within hours of the fires reaching Gatlinburg structures.

KFD also sent six pieces of firefighting apparatus – engines, tankers, a ladder truck and a 4-wheel-drive smaller truck specially designed to battle brushfires in hard-to-reach areas, along with 11 support vehicles.

KFD’s chaplain also was in Gatlinburg last week, helping to comfort displaced families as well as the First Responders.

In total, KFD committed more than 1,400 hours to battling the Sevier County fires and assisting families.

The Knoxville Police Department also sent help. Starting at 7 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 29, KPD began rotating shifts of 12 to 15 officers, who initially assisted Sevier County law enforcement with emergency street closures.

By the end of last week, KPD chaplains were supporting families and First Responders. KPD’s Search and Rescue Team was deployed, and KPD investigators were working with federal task forces.

All told, 200 KPD employees were on the scene in Sevier County last week, contributing more than 1,700 employee hours.

At the start of the Dec. 6 City Council meeting, Mayor Madeline Rogero thanked the City employees who helped battle the fires and also praised the “huge outpouring of compassion, concern and generosity from so many people opening their hearts and their homes and making donations.”

“The fires were a disaster and a tragedy, but the response to them really shows the deep sense of community we have here in East Tennessee – the Volunteer Spirit at its best,” the Mayor said.

There are plenty of ways that Knoxville residents can help Sevier families get back on their feet.

Want to contribute or find out the best ways to help the fire victims? Call 2-1-1. The 2-1-1 phone line is run by the City’s 311 Call Center under contract to the United Way, and staffers answering the line can help connect people in need with resources - or provide information on ways that donors can contribute to relief efforts.

Also, the Sevier County Economic Development Council, in conjunction with Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, has created a new website to coordinate all of the relief and resources. Visit

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