Published On: Fri, Apr 22nd, 2016

Rains help end fire saga…for now

A helicopter heads to a wildfire in the Big Cove Community after picking up water in the pond adjacent to the Cherokee Central Schools on the afternoon of Thursday, April 21. Rain began to fall in the area about four hours after this photo was taken.  (SCOTT MCKIE B.P./One Feather)

A helicopter heads to a wildfire in the Big Cove Community after picking up water in the pond adjacent to the Cherokee Central Schools on the afternoon of Thursday, April 21. Rain began to fall in the area about four hours after this photo was taken. (SCOTT MCKIE B.P./One Feather)

 

 

By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.

ONE FEATHER STAFF

 

They say that April showers bring May flowers.  In this case, April showers brought an end to a fire dilemma in Cherokee that lasted over five days.  In the past week, Cherokee has had three wildfires that have burned nearly 300 acres.  Heavy rains, which started on the night of Thursday, April 21 and continued into Friday, helped firefighters out immensely.

Fires started in the Yellowhill, Big Cove and Birdtown Communities with no injuries being reported in any of the three incidents according to Anthony Sequoyah, EBCI Secretary of Public Safety.

Several agencies were involved in fighting the fires including the BIA Forestry Division, Cherokee Fire Department, U.S. Forest Service, and the National Park Service.

Firefighters work on a smoldering hillside overlooking the Cherokee Harley-Davidson shop in downtown Cherokee on Monday, April 18. (ROBERT JUMPER/One Feather)

Firefighters work on a smoldering hillside overlooking the Cherokee Harley-Davidson shop in downtown Cherokee on Monday, April 18. (ROBERT JUMPER/One Feather)

The Yellowhill fire, which started on Sunday, April 17 on Conseen Drive off of Johnson Arch Road, started the week off.  Sequoyah said a total of 200 acres burned in that fire and an investigation has been launched with a report of its cause expected soon.

Principal Chief Patrick Lambert reported on Tuesday, April 19 that the fire was 100 percent contained.

Sequoyah said fire crews will continue work into next week in that area.  “They’ll continue there with the mop-up until they get all of the trees that were affected.”

The fire in Big Cove started on the morning of Wednesday, April 20 and burned approximately 85 acres.  “It is 100 percent contained, and it appears that this rain has pretty much taken care of it,” Sequoyah said on Friday morning.  He related that fire is also being investigated.  “There is no more information or suspects at this time, but it appears that it was intentionally set.”

The Birdtown fire started off of Old #4 Road.  Sequoyah said it was a brush fire that burned around three acres.  It was extinguished on Wednesday, the same day it started.

Sequoyah said there were no structural damages reported in any of the fires.  He did speak of two incidents involving damage to property, “We did have an incident on Yellowhill where a propane tank rolled into a contained area that had been cleared.  A log broke through and hit the propane tank with minimal damage.”

Crews work to remove a fallen tree from Acquoni Road on the night of Monday, April 18. Due to some damage caused in the fall, the road will be closed for the next several days from the bridge to the round-about.  (Photo by Kristy M. Herron/EBCI Commerce)

Crews work to remove a fallen tree from Acquoni Road on the night of Monday, April 18. Due to some damage caused in the fall, the road will be closed for the next several days from the bridge to the round-about. (Photo by Kristy M. Herron/EBCI Commerce)

He added, “We also had damage to the area of the walkway bridge on Acquoni between the old Courthouse parking lot and the first pull-out on Acquoni Road.”

Sequoyah praised the work of the firefighters involved in fighting the three fires.  “It’s a combined effort of state, federal and local agencies.  The Cherokee Fire Department has done an awesome job protecting structures and residents.  They were literally out all night on the hour checking residences in Big Cove making sure they weren’t threatened.”

He added, “The Chief’s Office has been attending to all of the needs of the firefighters.  Their help and support is greatly appreciated.”

Sequoyah went on to say, “It appears that everything has been taken care of.  We’ll still have crews out mopping up and tying up loose ends of anything that needs to be made safe.”