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VIDEO: Fireworks Blaze Prompts Evacuations

VIDEO: Fireworks Blaze Prompts Evacuations

The Knoxville News-Sentinel

May 31, 2011

CARYVILLE — Dozens of firefighters this morning were greeted with sparkling flames when a blaze erupted at a Campbell County fireworks business.

Firefighters from six fire departments tackled the flames that erupted about 2:30 a.m. at Thunder Mountain Fireworks, 292 John McGhee Blvd., according to Caryville Fire Chief Eddie Hatmaker.

“When we got there, flames were shooting through the roof,” Hatmaker said. “Fireworks were shooting everywhere.”

Concern about the fireworks, thickening smoke and the potential for explosions prompted authorities to close the northbound lanes of Interstate 75 for about 20 minutes, Hatmaker said.

Law enforcement officers also evacuated a nearby motel and an apartment building, Hatmaker said. Those people were allowed to return to their beds after about an hour.

Hatmaker said about 50 firefighters battled the flames — and fireworks — until about 5:30 a.m. By 8 a.m. they were able to leave the scene after assuring there were no embers left to reignite the flames.

The chief said when crews arrived five minutes after the initial call, they immediately requested help from nearby agencies. Firefighters and equipment from the fire departments in LaFollette, Jacksboro, Pinecrest, Ridgewood, and Campbell County Rural Fire Services joined the battle. No one was injured.

Hatmaker described the metal building that housed the fireworks business as “a total loss.”

The chief said the blaze does not appear to be suspicious, but he has requested the aid of the state fire marshal’s office in the probe of how the fire began.

“It’s such a large building, I requested help,” Hatmaker said.

The chief did have one bit of good news from the fire scene: George is safe.

George is the name of the huge dragon outside the fireworks store. Hatmaker said firefighters trained a spray of water on the large mascot to keep it from burning while battling the flames.

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