LAKE LEMON — Wind, trouble accessing water and high heat hindered firefighters as they battled multiple blazes on Watson Road last night.
Two houses, a carport, a garage and a pontoon boat were lost in a fire that began in a home in the 4200 block of Watson Road, Jackson Township Fire Chief Glenn Elmore said.
“It just basically became a raging inferno, because you basically had four structures on fire,” he said.
When firefighters arrived at around 7:30 p.m., the first home on the south side of the lake was already engulfed and another fire was beginning in a neighboring home.
Power lines on the first home had fallen and were sparking on the ground, Elmore said.
A neighbor had noticed smoke coming from an upstairs window of the first home and called the owner. The neighbor called 911 at 7 p.m.
The nearest water hydrant was at State Road 45 and North Shore Drive, more than five miles away.
Another fire department was working on drafting water from nearby Lake Lemon, but had trouble keeping it going due to problems with their truck, Elmore said.
“We just had trouble keeping the water going the whole time,” he said.
One of Jackson’s engines got stuck in mud, but firefighters were still able to run lines from the engine to fight the fire. Another department’s truck broke down in the middle of the road, Elmore said.
“There was a lot of things that might occur on one fire, but we had multiple things that occurred during this fire,” Elmore said. “We had four or five different obstacles in our way.”
Both homes were vacation properties with residents who were staying there part-time.
The carport and garage were at the second home.
A home across the street from the first sustained heat damage when the vinyl siding melted off.
A pontoon boat tied to a dock at the first home caught fire due to the heat causing small explosions to go off, Elmore said.
Elmore said the cause of the fire is electrical and possibly started with an attic fan, according to eyewitness accounts from a boater who came up on the fire, neighbors and the owner of the first home.
No one was injured or sent to the hospital, which was a blessing, Elmore said.
“We had a lot of firefighters who overheated on the scene and had to sit down for a while and recover and recoup because it was just a hot fire,” he said.
Firefighters from Fruitdale, Hamblen Township, Brown County (Nashville), Benton Township and Bloomington Township battled the blazes along with trying to protect nearby homes.
Jackson Township left the scene early in the morning Sept. 7, and firefighters were called back out this morning to put out hot spots. They finally returned to the station around noon, Elmore said.
Residents in the area came up to thank the firefighters this morning for keeping the fire from spreading to other nearby homes, he said.
“I feel terrible that we couldn’t save more, but we did protect a house that would have caught and the buildings around it. Everybody did a great job. It was just a difficult area in close quarters,” Elmore said.
“It was just a tight spot to fight a fire in, but all of the firefighters did an extremely good job.”