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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

That's the story and we are sticking to it...

"The engine overheated and stalled. It popped out of gear?, rolled backwards and without the engine running the power brakes were out?. Fortunately, our most experienced (standard shift) truck driver was at the wheel and he put it in the ditch to keep him and the two firefighters onboard from getting hurt,"

The department's 1983 wildlands truck was heavily damaged May 8 while trying to get to a brush fire on Shields Mountain. It will probably be declared a total loss by the insurance company.
CATON'S CHAPEL - The loss of its wildlands brush fire truck has crippled Caton's Chapel Volunteer Fire Department, and while a weekend fund raiser provided some relief, it was not nearly enough to re-equip the department for dealing with the most common type of fire it faces.
Fire Chief J.R. Romer said Saturday's car show and silent auction raised $2,100, and together with $5,000 already raised will put them on the path toward the purchase of a new wildlands truck expected to cost a minimum of $70,000.
Attendance for the fund raiser was a bit slow during the morning but Romer said the silent auction picked up in the afternoon.
"We had some real nice stuff; artwork, tires, cabin stays, beautiful things. I can't thank the merchants in Sevierville, Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge enough; they made the auction possible for us. In a time when the merchants themselves are having a tough time, they still keep on giving, and we are so grateful to them," he said.
Romer said the department's 1983 wildlands truck was heavily damaged May 8 while trying to get to a brush fire on Shields Mountain. It will probably be declared a total loss by the insurance company.
"The grade on that road is about 30 percent and that was the main reason for the accident. Going up that grade carrying 1,500 gallons of water you've got to be in low gear and the engine overheated and stalled. It popped out of gear?, rolled backwards and without the engine running the power brakes were out. Fortunately, our most experienced (standard shift) truck driver was at the wheel and he put it in the ditch to keep him and the two firefighters onboard from getting hurt," said Romer.
Lt. Jeremy Adkins said that without the truck, the 20-member department has had to resort to driving their personal vehicles loaded with hand lines and hand equipment like chain saws to fight the brush fires that must be accessed via steep roads.
"We have no water to use except 5-gallon backpacks," said Adkins. "The community is really backing us though. They've been very helpful and let us use their garden hoses. A lot of them know how critical it is without the brush truck, and we've already had homes threatened. ... We've had 50 brush fires so far this year and we expect to get at least 200 calls this year because we've already doubled our responses from this time last year."
Caton's Chapel also relies on other departments in Blount and Sevier counties to respond with their trucks, but, continued Adkins, "Without the truck, a 30-minute job becomes a two hour job, and a quarter-acre fire can turn into a 20-acre fire real quick. It's a big hurt for our department not to have a brush truck."

Source: By: CANDICE GRIMM Staff Writer mountain Press Article