KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – After flames swept through Sevier County and damaged or destroyed over 200 structures, those left standing have many in awe, including the Walden’s Ridge president, Mark Searcy. He has been building cabins for 45 years, including many of those in the neighborhood.
In fact, he was working on a cabin when right before having to evacuate the area. Searcy said he didn’t think the unfinished cabin would still be there after the fire, especially after seeing a video from Tom Lucas, a firefighter with Sevierville Fire Department who volunteers with Walden’s Creek Volunteer Fire Department.
“There’s wood around it and nothing caught on fire,” Searcy said still shocked. “Just a few smoldering embers and if you see that video, you think there’s no way anything on that mountain could be standing, but it’s just a miracle,” he said.
Firefighters were just in the neighborhood Wednesday making sure there were no hot spots. Even they were shocked at the outcome.
“Every firefighter that’s been up here in the last six days said it’s nothing but divine intervention that we still have any cabins up here,” Searcy said.
The unfinished cabin isn’t the only one that avoided the flames. Every cabin except two survived the wildfire. Searcy remembers the moments right before evacuating and getting visitors and residents out.
“We knocked on all the doors, and people from out of town are obviously not used to that, so they’re leaving, some reluctantly, and a lot of them just left everything they had and ran out,” he said.
Now seeing mostly everything make it through the fire, Searcy said it has brought a new sense of community to the area.
“You really find the good in people when things like this happen and how generous people are and wanting to help out and reach out,” he said.
He, along with residents in the neighborhood, plan to allow firefighters to stay in some of the cabins for free amongst other things, to thank them for their hard work.