Gatlinburg: Home spared of area couple who rescued honeymooners

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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John Bedell recaps Day 1 of News Center 7's coverage of the Tennessee Wildfires on the ground in Sevier County.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

UPDATE @ 10:55 p.m. (Dec. 2):

Rod Good said his Gatlinburg home was spared, but those within a mile to a quarter-mile away were burned to the ground.

This morning Good said authorities would not allow him and his wife to check on their property, so he spent $300 for a helicopter ride. From the air, he was able to see that his home was not damaged.

By 10 a.m. Friday, authorities allowed them to go check their homes. He said there was a lot of tears of joy that their house is OK.

UPDATED @ 11:22 p.m. (Nov. 30): Rod Good, a West Alexandria native, retired and moved to Gatlinburg in April. Good and his wife are the only ones who live full-time in their community that has 30 to 40 homes. The remaining homes are all rentals, he said Wednesday.

On Monday, the Goods were among the thousands in the area who were told evacuate because of the massive wild fire that's been blamed for seven deaths and burned more than 15,700 acres.

For reasons he can’t explain, Good felt he and his wife had a lot more time because the fire hadn’t reached their home. As his wife was packing and Good was in the back of their house watering their deck to help protect their home, someone knocked on their door.

It was a newlywed couple from Kansas who were on their honeymoon, and they’d rented one of the cabins near the Goods’ home. The couple took a taxi from the Nashville airport because they were too young to rent a car.

“Everybody told us it was a safe enough distance away that we should be fine,” Landon Oelke said.

They were watching television in their cabin when the power flickered and then failed. Landon Oelke saw a huge orange cloud, about 100 feet or so away, and became worried he and wife, Marcie, didn’t have transportation to leave.

Oelke said he was walking around the area looking for someone with a vehicle when he found Good’s cabin with a truck parked outside.

Good said, “They would’ve been trapped on the mountain if we weren’t there. They may have been 21 and 22. The husband was calm, and she was pretty nervous.”

Both couples got into Good’s truck and witnessed flames as they drove away from the area, he said.

“It’s God’s intervention, that’s all I can say,” Good said. “There was some reason I was delaying leaving when she wanted to leave and God’s hand was on that couple. They wouldn’t have been here if it wasn’t for that.”

Now the couple the Goods helped is in Nashville, he said.

“I think for me they will be lifelong friends,” Good said. “I’ve asked them if they’ll come back when this is rebuilt. They said they will be back.”