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Upper Bluff Mountain

Upper Bluff MountainUpper Bluff Mountain is a small community of 51 homes located on a mountaintop in Sevier County near the county seat of Sevierville. This community is located near Great Smoky Mountains National Park and is adjacent to the popular tourist destinations of Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. The area has experience a dramatic increase in the number of retirement and vacation homes being constructed.

Upper Bluff MountainIn 2001, 2,739 wildfires burned 68,141 and destroyed 67 residences across Tennessee. One of the most destructive fires threatened the Upper Bluff Mountain Community. The Ridgecrest fire burned 1500 acres and resulted in the loss of five homes in the community. Following the fire, the community realized that they were at severe risk for another catastrophic wildfire due to heavy tree mortality, steep slopes and increasing development.

Upper Bluff MountainUpper Bluff Mountain contacted the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, Division of Forestry, who provided the community with a National Fire Plan Grant to conduct a wildfire hazard risk assessment and develop community-based solutions to reduce local wildfire hazards. Dynamac Corporation, an environmental consulting firm, was contracted to conduct the assessment.

Dynamac and the Division of Forestry developed a wildfire hazard risk assessment that objectively identified and evaluated 31 hazard elements (including fuel, structural, access, and environmental parameters).

Residents established a new Firewise Board and developed a Firewise Community Action Plan to begin mitigating some of the wildfire hazards identified by the hazard assessment. All of the actions are voluntary; residents are encouraged but not required to participate. Additionally, the plan is flexible and can be updated as progress is made. Current proposed Firewise Actions include:

  • Establish a Firewise Community Action workday to meet as a group to work on reducing hazards at individual homes, clearing brush, cutting limbs, and raking leaves close to the homes. The first workday is scheduled for November 15, 2003.
  • Develop a phone tree to notify residents of wildfire.
  • Establish an emergency escape route from the community and identifying a regrouping area at the base of the mountain.
  • Hold annual Firewise meetings to maintain awareness and provide continuing education.