100 firefighters arrive on Thanksgiving, welcomed with free meal

Nov. 24, 2016: Instead of enjoying Thanksgiving at home, a crew of out of state firefighters arrived in East Tennesee to help fight wildfires here. They were welcomed with a meal put together by the kindness of strangers.

This Thanksgiving holiday, 100 firefighters from across the country touched down in East Tennessee to help assist with the major wildfires burning in the Southeast. 

Instead of heading straight to the fire lines, they were welcomed with a free Thanksgiving feast, put together by a Maryville woman who felt compelled to help. 

Karen Carpenter said God asked her to extend her appreciation to the men and women who left their families on Thanksgiving to work. 

"We just want to love on them and let them know that thanks we appreciate what they are doing," Carpenter said after greeting the firefighters with prayer. 

Everything for the feast was donated including the space for the meal at the Courtyard Marriot in Alcoa and the food. 

"I love it, watching them enjoy it and the camaraderie and the community love on them. It's so fun," she added. 

Five crews of 25 firefighters from Arizona and New Mexico all attended the meal. 

Lowell Susunkewa, with the Hopi Fire Agency, has visited East Tennessee a total of 4 times to fight wildfires on Thanksgiving day. 

"It feels good here, you know, because knowing that I'm doing this for my family at home and they are supporting me while I'm here so it's all well rounded as I should say because I have my family here too," Susunkewa said about spending Thanksgiving with his firefighting family. 

He said he's been looking forward to returning to East Tennessee because the Southern hospitality never disappoints. 

"Of all the Thanksgivings I've spent back here it was always like this, it's always the same and it makes me feel good knowing that, wow, I forgot you know, that the community is like that out here," he added.

After all, that's what Thanksgiving is all about - giving thanks and showing others you care. 

(© 2016 WBIR)


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