Local Couple Returns To Gatlinburg To Survey Fire Damage Of Property

Posted at 7:25 PM, Dec 05, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-05 20:25:24-05

One week after wildfires killed more than a dozen, destroyed some 1,500 homes and businesses and decimated thousands of acres of forest, Chris Allen and his wife Sarah surveyed the damage for themselves.

"It was an emotional day just seeing Gatlinburg the way it was," said Allen. 

The couple headed east the day the city opened to property owners. "We were sort of hoping maybe we were wrong, that there would be something left," Allen said. 

On Monday night they watched from hundreds of miles away as security cameras captured the fire engulf one of their two homes. "I think what if we had been there. I hear the story about people barely escaping with their lives," Allen said. 

Stories like his neighbor's who credits a phone call from Chris, who was watching his home burn,  for sounding the alarm. "He said the phone call that he received from me, 300 miles away, was his only warning to get out of Gatlinburg," Allen said. 

On their way back to Gatlinburg, the Allens hoped for the best but prepared for the worst. "As we went around the corner my wife looked at me and said oh my gosh, there's nothing," he explained. 

Allen captured videos at their two properties, the fire consumed both of them and left nothing but the foundation behind. "The wind fanned those flames and it just pretty much cleaned up after itself. There wasn't even that much ash," he said. 

While assessing the damage Allen noticed how the fire seemed to skip from one house to the next, as if to pick and chose its victims. "You would have a house that was completely untouched and then you'd have a house right next to it that was burned to the ground," said Allen. 

The Allens plan to rebuild in the same location and tell us many of their neighbors plan to do the same. Right now, however, their thoughts are with the families who lost loved ones in the fire.