Wildfires Destroy One House in Tennessee

Firefighters beat down smoldering blazes and helicopters dumped water as officials struggled to reinforce a containment line protecting a small resort community in the Smoky Mountains. 

About 30 of some 700 residences and vacation cabins were threatened in a steep area near the foot of Bluff Mountain, about 30 miles from Knoxville. One house was destroyed but no injuries were reported.

Tom Womack, a spokesman for the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, said the blaze was controlled Tuesday but flared up again Wednesday. Forty firefighters from the U.S. Forest Service were headed in to help.

Firefighters managed to beat the flames back from within a few feet of one home. ``We're not fighting a losing battle. Those houses are still standing,'' said Sevier County volunteer firefighter John Specht.

Some 520 fires have scorched more than 29,000 acres in Tennessee since Oct. 31.

``We're holding our own, but the situation is really dangerous,'' said Dwight Barnett, a state forestry spokesman. ``We couldn't possibly control anything if it got real windy,'' he said.

Elsewhere, the U.S. Forest Service agreed to a state request for additional funds and crews to help battle fires that were spreading northward across dry woodlands. Many were the result of arson.

``The good news is that eight persons have been arrested and more arrests are expected,'' said assistant state forester Jere Jeter. ``The bad news is that this does not restore the acreage, the home or certainly most importantly, the life of our fallen comrade.''

Forestry firefighter Harold Strode, 46, was killed Saturday while fighting a blaze in Overton County.

In Kentucky, forest fires charred another 2,100 acres in the mountains Wednesday. Wildfires have burned 150,000 acres of woodlands in Kentucky this year.

Dry weather and fallen leaves have fueled the recent fires in the South. In the past week, nearly 70,000 acres have burned in Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia, Virginia and Georgia. Forecasters predict no chance of rain until next week.