The Pittman Center Volunteer Fire Department is in need of communications equipment after battling the wildfires that spread across Sevier County.
Andrew Wagner, treasurer for the fire department, said crews responded to the Cobbly Nob fire on Nov. 28.
He said the first house ignited after the wind blew a downed power line. A propane tank exploded after that.
“We knew we couldn’t control the fire with the wind that we had going on,” Wagner said. “And so our main focus was trying to alert everybody on the mountain that they had to get out.”
A crew of only 17 people from the fire department battled the flames in the first few hours, working 36 hours straight before finally taking a break, he added.
None of the firefighters from Pittman Center were injured in the fire, but their equipment was not as lucky.
While crews were trying to tame the flames, the building housing their equipment for relaying communications at the top of the mountain burned.
“There was a tremendous amount of static,” Wagner said. “Then having to try and hear each other and what the needs were going on.”
He said the terrain on the mountain makes it tough to fight a fire on any given day, but not having good communication made it even more of a challenge.
“You’ve got lives depending on communication,” Wagner added. “It worked, but horribly.”
The fire department is now trying to raise $25,000 to replace the equipment that was lost in the fire.
According to the GoFundMe page, this will cover 25 new digital frequency radios and a digital repeater tower.
(© 2016 WBIR)