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1 - Harrison Ferry Mountain fire leads to evacuation, arrest
Harrison Ferry Fire-Firefighter.jpg
Firefighters from across the county responded in efforts to contain and extinguish the fire. - photo by Bethany Porter

On Monday, Oct. 24, a fire broke out atop Harrison Ferry Mountain leading to an evacuation and arrest. 

The Warren County Sheriff’s Department issued a press release stating someone reportedly started a fire in the area. According to Sheriff Jackie Matheny, Jr., “Warren County Deputies were dispatched to 951 Isha Lane in response to an individual that had been banned from the premises of Isha, and had set up camp with a fire on their property. Officers responded to find an uncontained fire. Officers with the Warren County Sheriff’s Office, local volunteer fire departments, Tennessee Forestry Division, EMA and EMS responded to the scene.”

Robert Vincent Halter, 57, was arrested that Monday around noon and was charged with reckless burning and criminal trespassing. According to arresting officer Matt Brown, “Isha made contact with dispatch that a male was trespassing on the property and it was believed he set a fire.”

According to Brown, “Robert Vincent Halter advised that he knew he was trespassing by spending the night on Isha Property and started a fire in a rock ring that got out of hand.” Halter was arraigned Tuesday morning, Oct. 25. Halter later received two additional charges of arson, a Class C felony, and vandalism, a Class D felony.

County Executive Terry Bell issued a state of emergency for Warren County as of 6 p.m. Monday, Oct. 24. Bell said, “Whereas, forest fires in the areas of Harrison Ferry has produced damage in the county of Warren which has affected the health and welfare of the citizens and caused damaged to property of this community. It is further ordered that, due to the existence of this situation, the Warren County Emergency Operations Plan be placed into effect to coordinate and facilitate an effective response to and recovery from this emergency/disaster situation.”

The Sheriff’s Dept. posted updates throughout the duration of the fire via social media and stated, “The Blackhawk helicopter arrived and has made two drops at the fire located behind Isha. The fire is now approximately 35% contained, and at this time no structures are in danger. We strongly urge all residents in this area to remain vigilant and to continue to monitor the news media outlets as well as our Facebook page.”

Residents of Isha and Curtistown were encouraged to evacuate the area until further notice, and residents of the surrounding areas were advised to continue watching for updates on what emergency actions they should take.

After the fire was contained, it reignited again and broke containment on Friday, Nov. 4. 

This fire was contained and the Tennessee Forestry Division was conducting live burns to reduce the likelihood of another fire growing out of control. The Sheriff’s Dept. announced that the fire reignited Friday afternoon and the Tennessee Forestry division began a burn-back around 4 p.m. The dry conditions, hot spots, heavy winds and the mountain terrain made extinguishing this fire challenging. 

The fire broke containment around 11 p.m. Friday and the Sheriff’s Dept. urged residents of Eagles Nest Rd. to prepare to evacuate. 

Around 1:30 a.m. Saturday the fire was once again contained. Sheriff Matheny gave an update later on Saturday, Nov. 5 that the fire was 80% contained.