A Tennessee firefighter caught in the chaos of the recent regional wildfires was forced to watch his own house burn down as he rushed to another call.
Firefighter Peter Thompson said that when he saw that wildfires were advancing upon his neighborhood, he told his wife and daughters to head to a local hotel.
“We knew Gatlinburg was on fire, but we didn’t know the extent of it,” he said, noting that he told them to evacuate at around 2PM on Monday.
As the firefighter-paramedic worked his rounds with the Sevier County Ambulance Service, he struggled to navigate through smoke, fire and fierce traffic jams caused by a disorganized evacuation.
“It literally looked like hell on Earth,” he said.
At midnight, Thompson was passing by his neighborhood en-route from an emergency call when he saw the sight no one wants to see- his house was engulfed in flames.
“My heart sunk,” he said. “There was nothing I could do because I was responding to a 911 call.”
Thompson and his wife went back to the house on Thursday, but nothing was left.
“We salvaged about three of our daughter’s Precious Moments figurines,” he said. “Everything else was ashes.”
According to Fox40, the firefighter knows his brothers did everything they could to prevent the neighborhood from burning- but in the end, nature had won with high winds that caused the fires to jump around.
“We gave it our all, it just overwhelmed,” he said.
Despite the setback, the Thompsons remain steadfast in their plans to stay in the area.
“We’re going to rebuild. It’s not going to run us off,” Thompson said.