When one Tennessee family found out that the Army National Guard was taking water from their backyard to fight local wildfires, they were happy to help. Raging fires have forced residents to evacuate many areas of the Smoky Mountains this week. At least seven people have died in Sevier County. For certain pilots, a pond on personal property was their closest water source.
The Chesneys, a family living on a farm in Walland, Tenn., first noticed helicopters hovering over their land on Monday.
"It would take the helicopter four minutes to get the water, drop it on the fire, and come back again," Larry Chesney told WBIR News. "We just stocked that pond with fish a couple of weeks ago, so I guess those fish are somewhere up on the mountain."
According to pilots with firefighting experience, people can often get angry about their ponds being drained. The Chesneys, however, were happy to help those in need. They knew that saving the pilots time could mean saving people's lives. Once their pond started running low, the family even ran hoses through their yard to replenish the water. "We're just glad they could use the water in our pond and we could be of any help," said Larry.
"I mean, most people wouldn't want us to dry their pond out," a pilot told WBIR News. "In this situation, there's a lot of land up here on fire. There are houses at stake. Them running water hoses to the pond really helped out a lot. This pond is a few minutes closer than our other main source at Perry's Mill Dam. Getting water from here saved a lot of time and gas, so we can drop more buckets to help fight the fire."
Unfortunately, the family's gesture is sure to yield a hefty water bill. According to a local news station, however, the town's utility company is going to work to ensure that the Chesney's generosity doesn't cost them too much.
Thanks to the service and selflessness of so many people, like the Chesneys, hopefully the area will be safe soon. Our thoughts go out to all of those affected by the devastating fires this week.