This is the touching moment these firefighters had their first sleep, after a gruelling 36 hours of fighting to dampen down the raging Tennessee wildfires.
Over 14,000 Gatlinburg residents had to evacuate their homes and businesses as the fire seared through the town, destroying everything in its path.
Brave fire rescue crews have been working relentlessly to extinguish the fires since Monday, when terrifying winds knocked down electricity masts which started the fires.
— WBIR Channel 10 (@wbir) November 20, 2016
The above photo shows exhausted firefighters, Avery Knapp, Christopher Ward, Zack Hughes and Charlie Ihle, completely drained and sleeping on the concrete floor.
Firefighter, Adam Scott Momberger, captioned the image which has been shared over 25,ooo times.
As close as we got to seeing sleep in 36 hours.
The horrendous wildfires wreaked devastation on the town and destroyed more than 15,500 acres of the Great Smoky Mountains, leaving at least seven dead and 53 injured.
— WBIR Channel 10 (@wbir) November 21, 2016
Firefighter Ward expressed his praise and gratitude to his fellow colleagues on Facebook.
Been a rough night/day. Couldn’t have done it with a more professional set of guys and gals.
Over 200 firefighters took to the town to try and stop the wildfires spreading further and to prevent any more casualties.
They were assisted by heavy rainfall, however, Fire Chief Greg Miller warned that this could actually cause more problems, like mudslides, which could worsen the situation.
So Gatlinburg is on fire. These wild fires are getting bad in East Tennessee pic.twitter.com/2VveD28CJB
— Zach (@Zach_Brinkley6) November 29, 2016
Authorities are working round the clock to identify those who sadly died in the flames, however there are parts of the county that they haven’t reached yet.
Sevier County Mayor Larry Waters confirmed at a conference that they ‘have not been able to get in to all of the areas.’
We pray that we don’t experience any more fatalities.
Bill Haslam, the Tennessee Governor stated that the fires are ‘the state’s buggest in 100 years.’
— Wolfgang (@Wolfie5684) November 29, 2016
Sevier County Mayor Larry Waters added:
I’ve never seen anything like this in the county, and we’ll never see anything like it again.
Firefighter Miller divulged that the fires spread quickly on Monday night, helped by winds that scarily reached over 87mph in parts of Tennessee, which has already been suffering from the worst drought in almost 10 years.
This is one for the history books
Miller said at a morning news conference yesterday. The likes of this has never been seen. But the worst is definitely over with.
— OurPrayer (@OurPrayer) November 29, 2016
Residents are desperate to find friends and relatives who went missing in the blaze.
One husband and father, Michael Reed is distraught whilst trying to find his lost wife and two young daughters, who disappeared whilst trying to evacuate their home.
I just want to find them
They said there were flames across the street. I told them to call 911 and get out, and that was the last I heard from them.
We are just hoping for a miracle.
— Joyce Peterson (@MemphoNewsLady) November 29, 2016
Fire authorities believe that about a third of Gatlinburg will have been obliterated by the disaster.
Shelters have been set up to support those who have lost their homes, with one shocked resident, Jeff Barker explaining what it was like to come back and find his home on fire.
By the time I arrived at my apartment, apartment’s gone, car’s gone, pets are gone.
It’s devastating when you come home, and all you can do is flee with the clothes on our back.
— Los Angeles Times (@latimes) November 30, 2016
Another, Claire Llleaas, fled with nothing but her pets and her husband’s ashes. She has no idea if her home will still be there when she returns.
She said simply:
It will be there, or it won’t
The resort town is also right next to Dolly Parton’s ‘Dollywood’ park and dozens of cabins have been badly damaged or burnt down completely by the flames, with 50 families having to evacuate.
— Chris Jackson (@ChrisJacksonSC) November 29, 2016
Dolly Parton released a statement as she watched in horror as the ‘terrible fires’ engulfed part of her park.
I am praying for all the families affected by the fire and the firefighters who are working so hard to keep everyone safe
It is a blessing that my Dollywood theme park, the DreamMore Resort and so many businesses in Pigeon Forge have been spared.
— Hannah Stephens † (@HannahESPN) November 29, 2016
On top of this, her Dollywood Foundation has revealed that it will donate $1000 a month for six months to those families who have lost everything in the horrific blaze.
Par of Dolly’s theme park accommodation, DreamMore will be open to provide shelter.
Thoughts go out to everyone affected by this terrible disaster.