MCMINNVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Crews in Warren County worked to contain a wildfire outside of McMinnville from Monday afternoon until Wednesday evening.
The fire occurred in the area of Isha Lane off Highway 8.
Warren County authorities announced shortly before 2:45 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 24 that deputies initially responded to reports of a person who had previously been banned from the premises setting up a camp with a fire in the 900 block of Isha Lane.
Members of the Warren County Sheriff’s Department, local volunteer fire departments, Tennessee Forestry Division, EMA and EMS responded to the scene following the discovery of an uncontained fire.
The man accused of starting the fire — Robert Vincent Halter, a Wisconsin native — was arrested and charged with reckless burning and criminal trespassing, according to authorities.
The Warren County Sheriff’s Department said Halter appeared before a judge for his arraignment on Tuesday, Oct. 25. After being appointed a public defender, Halter’s preliminary hearing date is set for Nov. 15.
Officials said this marked Halter’s first arrest in Warren County, but he was the subject of a previous call from the Isha location on Oct. 8, where he was asked to leave the and would not do so until law enforcement responded to the scene.
As of Wednesday, Oct. 26, the reckless burning investigation is reportedly still active.
County Mayor Terry Bell requested a State of Emergency to obtain more resources to assist in the situation.
Below are fire updates throughout the week:
At 7 p.m. Monday, the Warren County Sheriff’s Department posted an update on Facebook, saying more than 85 firefighters, 30 fire apparatus and several bulldozers were working to fight the fire. Firefighters from five surrounding counties also reported to the scene.
On Tuesday morning, Warren County Sheriff Jackie Matheny strongly recommended that all residents of Isha and Curtistown evacuate immediately. The Warren County Sheriff’s Department said anyone who remained in the area should be vigilant regarding their surroundings.
Just before 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, the Warren County Sheriff’s Department reported a Blackhawk helicopter arrived on scene and made two drops at the fire. The fire is now approximately 35% contained and no structures are in danger. All residents in the area are asked to remain vigilant.
In a 4 p.m. Tuesday update, Matheny advised that the fire has jumped a ridge and is moving in the direction of the Hills Creek community. Residents there are asked to keep watch but are not being asked to evacuate at this time.
The Warren County Sheriff’s Department posted on Facebook just before 7 p.m. Tuesday, saying the fire “appears to be under control.” They attributed the success to showers that passed through the area Tuesday afternoon, along with water drops from the Tennessee National Guard Blackhawk helicopter. Some authorities remained on the scene to make sure it would not spark up again.
Then, shortly after 10:15 a.m. on Wednesday, the Warren County Sheriff’s Department announced the Tennessee Forestry Division had 27 people on the scene of the Harrison Ferry Mountain fire in order to allow it to burn in place off the rim, with hopes of having the fire 100% contained by the end of the day. In addition, authorities said they lifted all evacuation recommendations.
Around 6:15 p.m. Wednesday, the Tennessee Department of Agriculture posted on Facebook that the Isha Lane fire, which spanned about 70 acres, was “100% contained,” adding that control lines surrounding the area would be monitored over the next few days until “the fire is considered controlled or out.” While there was minimal fire activity because of Tuesday’s rain, officials said smoke was still visible in small pockets within the fire perimeter.