Parents of Woodstock fire chief killed in Tennessee wildfire
Published Friday, December 2, 2016 1:12PM EST Last Updated Friday, December 2, 2016 6:16PM EST
Two former Woodstock residents are among the people who have died due to a wildfire in a Tennessee.
The resort city of Gatlinburg, Tenn., has been dealing with the wildfire since Monday. It is believed to have started due to human action at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park before spreading to the city itself.
It is believed to be responsible for at least 13 deaths, including those of John and Marilyn Tegler.
The Teglers had a vacation home in the area, and are the parents of Scott Tegler, the current fire chief in Woodstock.
Son-in-law Dave Lapointe says family members got the news about the Taglers Thursday night, after going more than three days without hearing from them.
Their last contact came in the form of a text message, in which the Teglers said they were evacuating their home.
“They were together, and they were in a place they liked to be,” Lapointe said.
Lapointe says the Teglers were found “just around the corner” from their home, on foot. It’s not clear whether they had turned back after starting to leave, or what other situations they encountered that may have led to their deaths.
“I don’t know that we’ll ever know that,” Lapointe said.
Lapointe describes the Teglers as “very family-oriented, nice people that would do anything for you” – a goodness that showed up especially when their three grandchildren were nearby.
In memory of the Teglers, flags were flying at half-mast Friday at Woodstock’s City Hall and fire halls.
“All of us here at the Woodstock Fire Department are keeping the Tegler family in our thoughts and prayers as they go through this difficult time,” the city’s deputy fire chief, Jeff Slager, said in a statement to CTV News.
It is believed that nearly 1,000 buildings have been damaged by the fire, while 10,000 acres of the park – the most-visited national park in the United States – have been scorched.
More than 14,000 people have been evacuated from the city, although some were expected to be allowed back in on Friday.
With reporting by Abigail Bimman and files from The Associated Press