published Saturday, August 27th, 2011

Fire forces home evacuations in Bradley County

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A man was burning debris from the April 27 tornadoes that hit his house on Julian Road in Bradley County on Saturday at about 4:30 p.m. when the wind picked up and spread the fire to a nearby wooded area.

Because the trees were so dry, Bradley County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Bob Gault said, the fire spread quickly. Firefighters from Bradley County and surrounding counties and cities fought back the fire, but the wind brought it to residential areas.

“It was unbelievable the wind they had out there,” Gault said.

Residents of five houses were advised to evacuate when the fire was in their back lots, but as the wind shifted from east to west, it crept up on the Covenant Hills subdivision on Benton Pike.

People in about 40 houses there were evacuated, Gault said, and sheriff’s deputies are staying in the neighborhood until this morning to prevent looting.

As of 9:30 p.m. Saturday, the wind had died down, and Gault said if the wind didn’t pick up, residents could move back into their houses at midnight or 1 a.m.

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