Incident Name: Daddy Ridge Fire in Overton County near Crawford, TN
Date: 11/10/01, 1831 hrs
Personnel: Hairold "Bear" Strode, a member of the Twinton Tower Fire Crew
Agency/Organization: Tennessee Department of Agriculture, Division of Forestry
Summary: Firefighter Strode was a member of a seasonal four-person hand crew constructing a fire break along the right flank of a fire near the head of a small, steep drainage on the Daddy Ridge Fire. The initial fire -- burning around a small resort community near the foot of Bluff Mountain in the Smoky Mountains -- had been contained the day before but escaped its control line.
The members of the hand crew were using two leaf blowers and two rakes to move loosely compacted hardwood leaf litter in depths varying between six inches to over two feet. A spot fire made an extremely fast run up the drainage where Firefighter Strode was located. A firefighter working side-by-side with Firefighter Strode noticed fire advancing toward them up the drainage. The firefighter tapped Firefighter Strode on the shoulder, pointed upward to their escape route, and told Firefighter Strode to leave the area immediately. The firefighter ran about 75 feet into a burned area and received a minor burn; Firefighter Strode was not with him.
Firefighters could not come to the assistance of the injured crew members for 3 - 3½ hours due to fire conditions. Firefighter Strode was killed when the fire burned over his position. The cause of death was listed as asphyxiation and burns.
- Tennessee Division of Forestry: Investigation Report (1.16 MB pdf)
- US Social Security Death Index: Hairold J Strode
- USFA Memorial Database: Hairold Strode
- Firefighters struggle to contain southern wildfires
From USA Today: Link to Online Article | 11/15/2001 - Updated 09:34 AM ET
By Kathleen Cole, AP
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Firefighters beat down smoldering blazes and helicopters dumped water as officials struggled to reinforce a containment line protecting a small resort community in the Smoky Mountains.
About 30 of some 700 residences and vacation cabins were threatened in a steep area near the foot of Bluff Mountain, about 30 miles from Knoxville. One house was destroyed but no injuries were reported.
Tom Womack, a spokesman for the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, said the blaze was controlled Tuesday but flared up again Wednesday. Forty firefighters from the U.S. Forest Service were headed in to help.
Firefighters managed to beat the flames back from within a few feet of one home. "We're not fighting a losing battle. Those houses are still standing," said Sevier County volunteer firefighter John Specht. Some 520 fires have scorched more than 29,000 acres in Tennessee since Oct. 31.
"We're holding our own, but the situation is really dangerous," said Dwight Barnett, a state forestry spokesman. "We couldn't possibly control anything if it got real windy," he said. Elsewhere, the U.S. Forest Service agreed to a state request for additional funds and crews to help battle fires that were spreading northward across dry woodlands. Many were the result of arson.
"The good news is that eight persons have been arrested and more arrests are expected," said assistant state forester Jere Jeter. "The bad news is that this does not restore the acreage, the home or certainly most importantly, the life of our fallen comrade."
Forestry firefighter Harold Strode, 46, was killed Saturday while fighting a blaze in Overton County.
In Kentucky, forest fires charred another 2,100 acres in the mountains Wednesday. Wildfires have burned 150,000 acres of woodlands in Kentucky this year.
Dry weather and fallen leaves have fueled the recent fires in the South. In the past week, nearly 70,000 acres have burned in Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia, Virginia and Georgia. Forecasters predict no chance of rain until next week.
- Wildfires Under Control in Tennessee
11/12/2001 | Online Article
Six firemen were trying to cut a fire line on a ridge around 2 p.m. Saturday in Overton County when the "fire ignited up into the trees and created a firestorm," Tennessee Department of Agriculture spokesman Tom Womack said. The fire killed 46-year-old Harold Strode.
- Wildfires Destroy One House in Tennessee, Kill a Firefighter
11/15/2001 | Online Article
Some 520 fires have scorched more than 29,000 acres in Tennessee since Oct. 31. Many were the result of arson...`The good news is that eight persons have been arrested and more arrests are expected,'' said assistant state forester Jere Jeter. ``The bad news is that this does not restore the acreage, the home or certainly most importantly, the life of our fallen comrade.'' Forestry firefighter Harold Strode, 46, was killed Saturday while fighting a blaze in Overton County.
- Tennesse Fallen Firefighters Memorial: Hairold J "Bear" Strode
Contributors to this article: David Fiorella, Mellie
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