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Elk Valley house fire initially reported as plane crash

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By PETER SAWYER

Reports of a plane crash led law enforcement and emergency responders to Elk Valley Sunday night. While there was a house fire and car accident, the investigation found no evidence of a plane crash.
“We had two calls (stating) that a plane had gone down,” Campbell County E911 Director Charlie Hutson said. “They (the callers) thought it was a plane crash. They evidently saw something, I don’t know what they saw.”
Earthsky.org predicted the Draconid meteor shower would produce the most meteors Sunday night and be most visible in the United States around 9 p.m.
“There were also reports of a meteor shower in the area but as of this release there is no confirmation,” Campbell County Sheriff Chief Deputy Aaron Evans said on Sunday night.
E911 began to receive calls around 8:20 p.m.
Campbell County Emergency Management Agency, Jellico Emergency Management Agency and the Campbell County Sheriff’s Department were dispatched to Meredith Lane in response.
“I was called at home at about 8:28 p.m.,” Evans said.
The CCSD mobilized the necessary officer to deal with a plane crash.
“We had the sheriff’s search and rescue team en route with us,” Evans said.
The CCSD also contacted the FFA, McGhee-Tyson Airport, and the Kentucky and Tennessee National Guard to see if they were missing a plane or had any information they didn’t have.
“We were prepared for it, thank God we didn’t have to go through with any of it,” Evans said. “We just wanted to make sure we exhausted all the options. We try to take seriously everyone’s account, everyone’s vision of what they believe they saw or heard, and to check it out. We feel like it’s our responsibility to take citizens’ accounts and work them through (until) we can confirm or dispel anything.
The CCSD also asked for the assistance of the Knox County Sheriff Department’s Aviation Unit. The KCSD brought in a helicopter and used its FLIR system to locate evidence of a crashed plane.
“They flew a helicopter over a wide ranging area for several minutes and also reported no evidence other than a house fire.” Evans said Sunday night.
“And after they covered a wide range of area and spent some time there, they called us and told us they didn’t see anything but a house fire,” Evans said.
No signs of a plane crash were found either, Evans said.
“They searched the areas,” Hutson said. “As far as I know, there was no indication a plane (had gone down).”
There was a house fire at 235 Meredith Lane. The CCSD initially went to the scene of the fire, but backed off and set up a staging area to put a game plan together.
The Jellico Rescue Squad was also dispatched to fight the house fire. The JRS sent four trucks and 12 people. The home was fully engulfed in flame when the JRS arrived, JRS President George Deuel said.
Nobody was injured in the house fire, Evans said.
While emergency responders worked to put out the house fire, a car accident occurred on State Route 297, about a mile from the house fire.
One vehicle was involved in the accident, Evans said. The driver of the vehicle was allegedly impaired, Tennessee Highway Patrol spokesperson Dalya Qualls said. He was arrested and charged with driving under the influence.
A juvenile passenger in the car had what were believed to be non-threatening injuries, Qualls said. Lifestar was dispatched around 9:16 p.m. according to an E911 call sheet. Lifestar flew the juvenile to UT Medical Center, Qualls said.