Cocke County wildfire closes highway, burns hundreds of acres

(Courtesy: WATE)

COCKE COUNTY, Tenn. (WATE) – As a wildfire spreads in Cocke County, the EMA director says two people have voluntarily evacuated their homes.

Federal forest service crews are working to contain a fire on Neddy Mountain. As of Monday, the fire is 30 percent contained and, so far, no structures have been lost.

The fire is estimated to have already burned 425 acres. Thousands of gallons of water have already been dropped, especially in areas where there could be potential damage to homes.

The fire has made it’s way down the to Highway 25/70. The Tennessee Department of transportation shut down the roadway Monday morning at 9 a.m. Drivers can take US 321 and SR 340 as detours.

Cocke County emergency personnel have advised to avoid unnecessary traffic in the area due to safety concerns.

There will be rolling roadblocks through parts of 25/70 in the Del Rio through Neddy Mountain area for TDOT to clean up woodland debris along the roads.

“This was a human-caused fire, which means it was not a natural start by lightening or any other natural source. I think [folks] that start these fires don’t realize the danger they’re putting people’s lives in,” said Leslie Morgan, District Ranger.

The start of the fire is suspected to be arson but is under investigation.

There are 65 fire personnel currently working to build and maintain fire lines. Four bulldozers, two helicopters, and air tankers are being used to manage containment lines.