When he packed his girlfriend and children in the car and drove out of Gatlinburg on a dark and smoky night last November, Allan Rivera never imagined they wouldn't be able to go back home.
After work that day he had his usual cup of coffee and was sitting down to watch a movie with his family. That's when a neighbor knocked on the door and asked if they planned to evacuate.
"I told him, 'Why?' and he said we should evacuate immediately because of the smoke," Rivera said.
He looked outside. Trees were swaying in the wind. Lights were flickering on and off as if the electricity were about to go out. Heavy smoke hung in the air. But Rivera, 30, said he wasn't too worried.
As fire overwhelmed the city, reinforcements sat stuck in traffic.
U.S. Highway 321, better known as the Spur, stretches 5 winding, tree-lined miles on the way into Gatlinburg from Pigeon Forge to the north. Police, park rangers and Tennessee Department of Transportation crews worked nonstop the night of the Nov. 28, 2016, wildfires to clear the lanes as trees toppled into traffic left and right. But for every tree they cut and dragged away, another fell to take its place. As the firestorm overwhelmed emergency crews inside the city, firefighters, state troopers, paramedics and others poured in to offer help. But the first wave of relief nearly dried up when an old-growth hardwood tree, more than 2 feet in diameter, thudded to the pavement near Wiley Oakley Drive at the edge of town.
Three fires broke out in four hours across the city late Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning.
The first house fire took place in the 4400 block of Tall Tree Circle in East Memphis. That fire took place around 10:45 Tuesday night.
Officials said the fire was under control by 11:24 p.m. That house was also under renovation and no one was living there.
No injures were reported and that fire is under investigation.
The fire was through the roof when MFD arrived and 33 firefighters battled those flames.
Shocking viewer video shows a fire completely taking over another home in South Memphis.
This home was in the 1300 block of S. Orleans.
WHBQ MyFox 13 Memphis
Newport and Cocke County firefighters responded to two home fires in Newport Tuesday morning.
Newport Battalion Chief Tim Pack said the 2:10 a.m. blaze was in a single-story frame home on Centerview Street.
Owned by Tony Helton, the residence was unoccupied and the cause of the blaze is undetermined. Firefighters estimate the loss totals $37,000.
Newport firemen were on the scene of the Helton blaze when they were notified of another fire on Old Cave Church Road at 4 a.m.
Cocke County firefighters responded to that blaze under a mutual aid agreement until the Newport firefighters could get to the scene.
Morristown Citizen Tribune