Smokey wouldn't like this one bit

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By Ben Carlson

Smokey Bear would take a narrow view of the likely cause of a fire that toppled a massive oak tree Monday afternoon behind the Briar Creek subdivision in Lawrenceburg.

City Fire Chief Robert Hume said it appeared the fire was set, likely by kids hanging out next to it and tossing cigarette butts in the tree's hollow trunk.

"You can see a couple of wooden blocks at the base ... kind of like someone was sitting there," Hume said. "There certainly weren't any lightning strikes today."

The fire was called in around 4 p.m. from a resident in Briar Creek who said a tree was burning in his back yard. Fortunately for firefighters and residents, the tree was actually several hundred yards from the nearest residence in an area of the subdivision that has yet to be developed.

Briar Creek is located opposite Anderson County High School on US 127 Bypass.

Glowing embers and flames were visible three quarters of the way up the tree when firefighters arrived.

Firefighters John Durr, Dustin Carrender and Admildo Garcia manned the large hose hooked to one of the department's pumper trucks, and firefighter Garrett Taylor used a smaller hose to contain nearby brush that was starting to burn.

The firemen were able to knock down the flames fairly fast, but Chief Hume said putting the tree out would be nearly impossible without first knocking it down.

Hume left the scene and asked a man operating a track hoe nearby to use the machine to knock it down.

He did, allowing firefighters to dowse it with water and put it out.

"These old trees are very difficult to put out. They just smolder and smolder, sometimes for days."