Fire burns in Tellico Plains area; Trail of Tears a concern

A fire in the Tellico Plains, TN area near Cherohala Skyway is threatening structures as well as a part of the historic Trail of Tears, said Nathan Waters, assistant district forester with the state Division of Forestry.

Terry McDonald with the U.S. Forest Service said the fire was reported around 2 a.m. and was covering 30 acres but would likely grow before it is contained. It was threatening four structures and one business.

An employee at the Cherohala Skyway Visitor Center said the fire was near the Cherohala Skyway Harley Davidson store. The store is on the outskirts of Tellico Plains on the skyway just as it heads into the Cherokee National Forest.

The historic Trail of Tears, on which Cherokee Indian tribes were forced to march for relocation in Oklahoma, goes through Tellico Plains. “Most of it (the fire area) is federal land,” Waters said. “But we really have to watch our (break) lines.”

Lines are used to cut off fires and keep them from spreading. The lines are usually cut with bulldozers, and using those on a historic site would be an issue.

“The Trail of Tears runs a half-mile corridor on that side (of the mountains),” McDonald said. “The fire has burned in that area, but we won’t use ‘dozers on the Trail of Tears. Right now we are just trying to contain the fire.”

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