GATLINBURG, Tenn. – We’ve seen the photos of the devastation, the houses turned to smoky shells, the neighborhoods emptied. We’ve read the stories of the displaced and the dispossessed.
But you don’t have to look any further than this photo to see the effect the fires raging through Gatlinburg are having on the people who bear the weight of containing them.
The Johnson City Professional Firefighters Association posted this picture on its Facebook page. It shows five firefighters asleep on the sidewalk, their heads resting on their gear. They had just returned from battling the blaze for 30 straight hours.
“They had went to the point of having to sit down, we had some food. And I guess as soon as we had the food, it hit them and everybody was just kind of flaked out on the sidewalk,” Johnson City Fire Chief Mark Scott told CNN affiliate WDTN.
The Johnson City Fire Department was one of many agencies from Northeast Tennessee who sent crews to battle the 15,000-acre Gatlinburg fire that devoured more than 400 buildings and killed at least 7 people.
All of them returned home safely.