The death toll from wildfires near Gatlinburg, Tennessee, stands at 11 as of Dec. 1, due to a massive blaze that burned more than 15,000 acres and destroyed more than 700 structures. Multiple homes and businesses have been lost, and one member of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) has been on the ground witnessing the devastation firsthand while doing all he can to help.
Brian Wall, a computer forensics analyst with HSI Knoxville, volunteers in his off-duty time with the Sevier County Rescue Squad. On Monday, Nov. 28, he received the call that all members of the squad were needed at the fire station. Wall eagerly answered that call.
For Wall, volunteering is a way for him to continue to serve his community and provide valuable life-saving support to the area.
On Nov. 28, after the call came in for Wall and his teammates, the strong winds caused the fire to intensify and forced the evacuation of the outlying areas of Gatlinburg. Wall and the rest of the wildland firefighting crews were pulled back to the downtown area to try to preserve the many business and other buildings that were being threatened.
After a night of fighting the fires and assisting in the rescue efforts of the many people displaced by the fires, Wall went back to work the next day with HSI where he participated in the execution of a search warrant.
Wall’s fellow co-workers and supervisor were impressed by his dedication to his job and the commitment he has for helping his fellow citizens.
Hundreds of people have been left homeless by this disaster and will continue to rely on the kindness and caring of people like Wall.