Rhea Co. firewood factory goes up in flames - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Rhea Co. firewood factory goes up in flames

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Photo by: Genny Byrd Photo by: Genny Byrd

RHEA COUNTY, TN (WRCB)- A massive fire engulfs a Rhea County business, leaving it in ruins.

The blaze broke out at Mountain Wood Products on Wash Pelfrey Road. The factory that manufactures packaged firewood.

Thick smoke fills the air as the Mountain Wood Products factory in Evensville goes up in flames.

"It's stacked full of dried firewood," says Evensville District Fire Chief Brad Harrison.

The factory produces kiln dried firewood sold at convenience stores.

"That's actually what started the fire was the kiln drier, that dries the wood," says Harrison.

He says once the fire ignited, it spread very quickly. About 50 firemen responded with a crew from Bledsoe County helping.

"We actually had two firemen inside the building and it exploded. We had a bad explosion and they were lucky to get out," he says.

He thinks a fuel tank may have caused the explosion.

"We had several fuel tanks that was within five feet of the building. We were able to get those away from the building so they didn't explode."

Harrison says they faced several challenges fighting the fire. For one, it is located on top of rural Evensville Mountain. And despite all of the rain, it helped very little to calm the flames. He also says high winds kept the fire going.

The only positive? A nearby water source.

"We were lucky. They have a large lake within probably 1,000 feet of where the fire was actually at. So we were able to use that to shuttle water up the hill."

Even so, the building and everything inside it, could not be saved.

"Several hundred thousand dollars worth of machinery, just machinery lost," says Harrison.

Harrison says he would not be surprised if damages surpass the $1 million mark.

Again, with the fire being so intense, they just have to let it burn itself out which could take several days.

Because of its location, no other structures or homes are in danger.

 

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