EVENSVILLE, Tenn. -- About a dozen employees are without jobs this week after a Sunday afternoon fire destroyed Mountain Wood Products.
Brad Harrison, chief of the Evensville Fire District, said he was the first to arrive soon after 1 p.m. as heavy, black smoke rose above the firewood supplier's building. Everyone inside escaped without injury, he said.
Mountain Wood Products produced packages of firewood sold to local convenience stores, campers and individuals. Efforts to locate the owner and employees were unsuccessful.
Harrison said the fire began in the kiln used to dry the firewood in the largest area of the nearly 30,000-square-foot building on Evensville Mountain.
He said "several explosions" took place after the kiln burst into flames.
One blast came when a propane tank ignited, he said.
Harrison said firefighters had tried to move three fuel tanks outside the building to prevent further harm. Two were anchored and only one could be moved, he said.
Firefighters fought flames more than 20 feet high, he said.
Rhea County Executive George Thacker said the flames were so high and intense that mutual aid responders from other counties came to help, but everyone "had to get away."
Harrison said the heat began "melting the steel away" and the business was "a total loss."
Kimberly McMillian is based in Rhea County. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.