Firefighters injured: Explosion traps firefighters inside burning home
Three Townsend volunteer firefighters were injured as they battled a house fire in Townsend Wednesday morning.
Townsend firefighters were dispatched at about 7:20 a.m. to a farmhouse in the 200 block of Boat Gunnel Road. Townsend Fire Chief Don Stallions said based on the call he immediately requested mutual aid from the Blount County Fire Department.
Townsend firefighters, who sent four trucks and 12 firefighters, arrived on the scene to find the farmhouse fully engulfed in flames.
They were assisted with an engine, two tankers, a support truck and nine firefighters from Blount County, who started arriving at 7:37 a.m.
As firefighters worked inside the house, there was a small explosion inside the residence, which is believed to have started after firefighters struck magnesium with their hoses, Stallions said. Two firefighters fell as they were trying to back out of the house when the explosion occurred.
“They became trapped for a small amount of time,” Stallions said. “A back-up crew came and got them out.”
One of the firefighters was checked out by emergency personnel on the scene and medically cleared, Stallions said. The second, who was in his mid to late 20s, was taken to Blount Memorial Hospital, where he was treated and released.
Another Townsend firefighter was also taken to the hospital after experiencing chest pains, and was also released from the hospital Wednesday evening.
Blount County firefighters cleared the scene at 10:35 a.m., while Townsend stayed until around 11:45 a.m.
There were no residents in the structure, as the owners were out of town, Stallions said. The house was still standing but was a total loss.
Blount County Fire Chief Doug McClanahan said the fire could have been worse. “We all worked together, and that’s the big thing,” he said.
The cause of the fire is currently unknown, Stallions said. “The fire appears to have started on the left side of the house and then moved to the rest of the house,” he said.
The Blount County Sheriff’s Office will handle the fire investigation.
The fire comes on the heels of another blaze that burned 136 acres of woodlands off Wears Valley Road in Townsend Monday.
The Townsend Volunteer Fire Department received a call at 5 a.m. that the fire was within 15 feet of four houses in Rocky Top Estates. Tennessee Division of Forestry had five dozers on the scene cutting fire lines around the blaze to keep it contained, but high, whipping winds were making anything hard to accomplish.
The fire started on ridges and was creeping down the mountains and later got down into Fawn Hollow, as well as near Rocky Top Estates. The cause of that fire is unknown. Members of the Townsend Fire Department’s Swift Water Rescue Team also responded to a trapped canoeist who was pulled from the Little River Monday afternoon near the Sinks in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The canoeist, a 65-year-old Ontario, Canada man, later died at Blount Memorial Hospital.