Red Flag Warnings Across Region - Wildfires Spread Friday

John M. Dabbs
File Photo - Firehawk Helicopter Taking on WaterJohn Dabbs/Photographer

Friday saw multiple fires in Northeast Tennessee. Multiple fire departments responded to a fire in the Roan Mountain area shortly after 12 a.m. Friday. Another wildfire caused evacuations in Hawkins County.

Carvers Gap fire

A post from Fork Mountain Fire & Rescue reports they had arrived on scene to find a "significant sized fire." Fork Mountain Fire & Rescue responded with Roan Mountain Fire Department and the North Carolina Forest Service in the valley of Roan Mountain.

The fire was reportedly burning from the road to the top of the bald side of Carvers Gap. The fire crossing the top of the bald had steady winds of 20-25 mph according to the Fork Mountain posts. The Tennessee Department of Forestry was on scene monitoring the blaze until 4 a.m. Friday, when Fork Mountain crews were able to bring the fire under control, turning the burn over to the U.S. Forest Service.

While the cause of the fire is uncertain at present, responding crews couldn't help but think about the Chimney Tops Fire that gutted Gatlinburg a few years ago.

Red Flag Warning

The National Weather Service issued a Red Flag Warning Friday afternoon from 1:20 p.m. which remained in effect throughout the afternoon. The Red Flag Warning was for most all of East Tennessee, and the Cumberland Plateau, for gusty winds and low humidity.

A Red Flag Warning means that critical fire weather conditions are either occurring now....or are expected to occur shortly. A combination of strong winds...low relative humidity...and warm
temperatures can contribute to extreme fire behavior.

Hawkins County wildfire

A wind-driven wildfire near Rogersville called for the evacuation of some area residents Friday afternoon. As of 3:50 p.m., no homes had yet to be damaged. Hawkins County EMA Director Jamie Miller said the fire had grown to more than 100 acres by 4:55 p.m. A shelter for evacuees has been established at the Hawkins County Rescue Squad at 955 E. McKinney Ave. in Rogersville.

Miller said some evacuations have since been lifted as crews continued to battle the wind-driven fire. Evacuation orders remained in the areas of Pole Can Knob Road, Blakes Mountain Road, and Pat Gilliam Road. The orders for Austin Mill, Tuggle Hill, Guntown Road, and Big Spring have been lifted.

Miller says the fire was 90% contained as of 6:40 p.m. Friday. Some customers of Holston Electric were expected to lose power for a short time while the utility switched feeds. Several state and local agencies responded to support the respose efforts, including Hawkins County fire departments, Hawkins County Sheriff's Office, Tennessee Highway Patrol, the Tennessee Division of Forestry, and others from around the region.

The Weather Service has since cancelled the Red Flag Warning, and more moisture and cooler temperatures are moving into the region, with lows near 30 degrees and rain expected on Saturday.

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An outdoor enthusiast with a passion for travel and adventure. John is a professional consultant and photojournalist.

Bristol, TN

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