Morale high as volunteer firefighters battle wildfires, keep Waldens Creek informed

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SEVIERVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – According to the Waldens Creek Volunteer Fire Department, more than 70 fire departments from across the state responded to the Hatcher Mountain Fire this week.

They all worked around the clock. Most firefighters based in Sevier County are volunteers. They lack work to try to fight these fires and keep their community safe.

“It’s been exhausting, but we’ve also had an outpouring of support from our community,” said Waldens Creek Volunteer Fire Department Captain Jon Lanier. “These volunteer services, Waldens Creek Fire, all the volunteer services around us survive on financial donations. So if they want to donate, they can donate gift cards or they can donate financially here, or they can contact our fire department, and Marisol, she can take care of that.

Marisol Martinez is a department volunteer.

She does a lot to make sure everyone in the community is aware of what’s going on on their Facebook page.

She also makes sure crew members stay hydrated and have food when they return to their stations.

Martinez is the one who posts updates, photos and videos to his Facebook page and personally notifies owners of specific areas that have been affected by responding to posts.

“It’s more about letting me show you what they’re going through so they have the perception of what they’re going through, that they’re risking their lives,” she said. “We paid firefighters there, but a lot of them are volunteers. They don’t get paid for it and they risk their lives.

Martinez said there were two specific reasons why she was doing this.

“One of my husbands is the deputy chief here and he’s on fire, and I want to know he’s protected and has the support he needs,” she said. “Number two, the community, the people here are just amazing.”

Martinez said that at this point, monetary donations are useful to replace items they may have lost in those fires, such as fire hoses.

She herself has missed several days of work because, she says, her community and her station need her. They are also always looking for more volunteers.

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