ROGERSVILLE — As the Short Mountain forest fire smoked up western Hawkins County for the sixth consecutive day Tuesday, state forestry crews and local volunteers finally got a bit of good luck as a wind shift on the west end of the mountain blew the fire back into itself.
Hawkins County Emergency Management Agency Director Gary Murrell said Tuesday there’s a good chance that local volunteer firefighters will be home eating Thanksgiving dinner with their families after state forestry officials reported the Short Mountain fire to be about 90 percent contained as of sunset.
Earlier in the day, westerly winds were threatening to blow the fire over its western boundaries near the Short Mountain Silica mine. Around mid-day the wind changed direction and blew the fire back into itself.
“These boys have really put some line in some fire here today,” Murrell said Tuesday evening. “There’s still a lot of hot spots burning, but it’s inside their lines and forestry just told me they’ll be here for two or three more days, or until it comes a good rain. Every structure that we’ve found had a dozer line and a hand line put around it today, and the fire is pretty much cut off on the western end.”
Murrell added, “It went to Short Mountain Silica, and they set back fires there to let it meet the fire. It met and it went out there. The only thing burning now is the north side, and it’s got containment lines on it. The east end has some areas that aren’t contained, but it’s just got some small hot spots and they’re going to start working it in the morning.”
Three full dozer crews worked along Clouds Creek on Tuesday at the eastern and northern base of the mountain. As of sunset Tuesday, the fire hadn’t even reached the hand lines they created there Monday.
“If it rains tomorrow (Wednesday) it will be a great Thanksgiving, but I’m pretty sure that’s not going to happen,” Murrell said.
“I don’t even know if we’re going to have a staging area here (at the Quarryville Boat Ramp) Thursday. Forestry is thinking about releasing the local volunteer fire departments and only call them if they need them,” he said.
“I can’t promise that everyone will be home for Thanksgiving Thursday, but I can promise that the ones who are here fighting this fire Thursday will have Thanksgiving dinner. We’ve already decided that for them.”