Family of WSU women's basketball coach fights Tennessee wildfire

Published: Nov. 29, 2016 at 6:21 PM CST
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Three people were killed and 14 others have been hurt in the devastating Tennessee wildfires.

More than 200 homes and businesses have been damaged or destroyed. More than 200 firefighters are fighting it and 200 others have been requested.

Among those assisting fire-relief efforts, the brother-in-law of Wichita State women's basketball coach, Jody Adams-Birch.

The family of assistant coach Kaci Bailey had to evacuate from the fire.

Both the coaches are Tennessee natives. Adams-Birch says it's tough watching her home state burn

"It's just so sad. When you hear about something like that all you can do is pray," Adams-Birch said.

As thousands of people flee, Tuesday, her brother in law Earnest Marion, headed towards the flames. He's a state trooper who lives an hour south of Gatlinburg.

"They called him up to help in the area. He's a husband of seven children and so the family is concerned for him," Adams-Birch said.

She says they can't help worrying, but know he's doing what he loves.

"My heroes are the ones that keep us safe," she said. "So I'm very proud of him."

Kaci Bailey, the assistant coach, is also from Tennessee.

Her dad, just rented a cabin in the mountains of Gatlinburg about a month ago

"The whole mountain where theirs is has been destroyed," she said.

Her family evacuated Sunday, when rising smoke started to affect breathing.

"He said it was bad. You could tell in your chest," Bailey said. "They were sending out memos all over Gatlinburg that you need to leave. They left right before they demanded everyone to evacuate," she said.

Her dad hasn't been able to check on the cabin because only emergency personnel are allowed in the area at this point, but he does believe it's destroyed.

"We're like oh that's all material stuff," Bailey said.

She says they're just glad their family is safe.

Adams-Birch says they're doing a lot of praying right now and hoping for more rain.

It rained three-quarters of an inch overnight in the fire area. Officials say the worst of the fire is over.