Homes saved by firefighters
Floridian Robbie Peirce had 11 anxious hours on the road Sunday after learning fire threatened her mountain getaway, but she needn’t have worried because quick response by local firefighters saved all 13 homes in Tuskeegee Acres on Highway 28.
“We’re just knocking on wood and counting our lucky stars. I just believe the firefighters were miracle workers,” Peirce said as she surveyed her 2 1/2-acre plot – most of it charred – near the top of the lone gravel road that twists through Tuskeegee Acres. “They saved our home and the Raulerson’s.”
Just as the N.C. Forest Service arrived on scene, a 20’wall of flames struck one home, damaging it, but they were able to keep the home from burning until larger fire engines arrived on the fire.
The $210,000 home Robert and Glenda Raulerson own at 433 Tuskeegee Acres suffered considerable damage to vinyl soffit and siding. The Raulerson’s were not home when a fast moving brush fire burned 50 acres and threatened several homes, most of them vacation rentals like those belonging to Peirce and Raulerson.
The fire, which was reported just
before 5 p.m., apparently jumped Highway 28 and quickly roared up the mountain into the Tuskegee Acres development and later threatened homes in the nearby Pine Lake Ridge development as well.
Firefighters from the N.C. Forest Service, U.S. Forest Service, and Stecoah, Graham County, Snowbird, Santeetlah, Meadow Branch, West Swain Fire Departments responded to the fire.
Two helicopters, a scout plane, and two dozers were also used on the fire. Firefighters were involved much of the time with structure protection as the fire burned around several homes. Crews built fire lines and set backfires around several homes to keep them from burning. The helicopters and fire engines kept closer to the homes wet down.
The fire was finally contained around 2:30 a.m. Easter morning.
Firefighters remained on the scene throughout Sunday. Crews were on the fire all day on Easter dousing hot spots and patrolling the perimeter of the fire. “There were still areas glowing when we got here at about 10:30 last [Sunday] night,” Peirce said. “There are still some hot spots.”
A number of trees on Peirce’s property were blackened 5’ off the ground.
Whips of gray smoke from dozens of holes in the ground confirmed Peirce’s statement Monday afternoon.