A grey cat named Jake was a ray of hope after surviving a hellish fire that destroyed a beautiful estate in Tennessee.
The devastating Hatcher Mountain Fire in Sevier County, East Tennessee, became a major wildfire from late March to April. As it spread due to high winds, the fires damaged or destroyed more than 300 structures.
An estimated 3,700 acres were scorched during the blaze as first responders “flocked to the area” to help fight the fires that began on a Wednesday morning.
Many families lost everything and were left to pick up the pieces and start over, looking for any glimmer of hope.
The Von Bryan Estate Burns in the Fire
The Vaughns family had to leave behind their business of over 35 years; the fire destroyed the Von Bryan Estate, vehicles, and their family home. It opened as a bed and breakfast in 1988 but sadly was a total loss.
“It seemed like a bad dream that you hope you can wake up from,” said Patrick Vaughn, who watched the horrific scene unfold from a parking lot.
Heroic Firefighters Fight to Stop the Flames
They could only watch as the flames approached, although firefighters risked their lives to stop the spread. After being trapped by the flames, one of the firefighters, Jim Carr, made a final video to his wife and family. Fortunately, he made it out with some singed hair and ember burns. Later, he would meet with the Vaughn family, all thankful to have survived the hellish fire.
“Our hearts may be broken over losing the Von Bryan, but we are so thankful these amazing firefighters made it out alive. Our heroes ❤,” posted R. Vaughn.
As Patrick watched from a parking lot, he saw the entire property go up in flames through occasional openings in the smoke. Later, there was almost nothing left. However, Jake miraculously came through it all hiding in the rubble.
Jake the Cat Found in the Rubble
In the aftermath, they found few items left, such as burned flowerpots, a firetruck toy, and singed mugs. Nevertheless, Vaughn said, “You have to go forward and look for the positive.” They hope insurance will come through and help them rebuild the once spectacular estate.
Another ray of hope arrived in the grey cat. Somehow, Jake survived the apocalyptic blaze with singed whiskers and a thick coating of soot. Recently, he reunited with another Von Bryan Estate cat.
“Jake’s little whiskers were burned off, and his white markings are grey from the soot. He’s so happy to be back with us. Thanks everyone who helped save him,” posted R. Vaughn.
Jake Offers Some Welcomed Good News
On April 4, the Sevier Animal Care Center made a post about the cat and shared the welcomed good news. Everyone was so thrilled to see the cat was ok.
“This sweet baby came into our care and was reclaimed very quickly by the owner! Huge thank you to our emergency responders and firefighters!” posted the shelter.
Likewise, the City of Pigeon Forge Fire Department and Anderson County Volunteer Rescue Squad were happy to report Jake was reunited with the family.
“Sevier County’s emergency responders performed many acts of heroism over the last 4 days. Human or animal, it doesn’t matter. Overnight last night, members of the Sevier County Volunteer Rescue Squad, while checking for hotspots located and rescued a cat in fire rubble. Other than singed whiskers, the cat seemed ok.”
Video by WBIR Channel 10:
A Child’s Note Uplifted the Community
Another ray of hope arrived in the letter from a little girl named Mary Ruth, who left it for families at a disaster relief center. Her words were so inspiring that volunteers made copies to go to everyone who came for help.
“Dear you, I am so sorry that your house burned down in the fire but I am glad you are alive today. You don’t know me but I love you with all my heart and God loves you too,” she wrote.