Family displaced by wildfire celebrates first Thanksgiving in rebuilt home

Positive News

The Juckers are still helping out their neighbors to keep their Gatlinburg community "Firewise"

GATLINBURG, Tenn. — Their new mountain home is called “New Bear” — but the significance only stands out if you know what happened to the old one. 

The Gatlinburg wildfire destroyed Pete and Joy Jucker’s Chalet Village house in 2016. 

Over the years we’ve brought you the Jucker’s story. From the months after the fire through the delays and frustrations of rebuilding. 

Now, they’ve moved into their new home. 

“The day after the fire when I stood in front of the house, I knew I wasn’t going to leave that place. That was home to me. I’m going to come back I’m just going to make it better,” Pete Jucker said.

But for the Juckers it’s not just a place to live, it’s a model of Firewise development. 

“We’re doing river rock around the outside instead of a lot of landscaping,” Joy Jucker explained.  

Even if their house is built, their work is not done. 

On Tuesday, Pete Jucker was out with his chainsaw, helping a neighbor cut down dead trees on his property. The goal–keeping them Firewise too.

“There are lots of projects to do at the house which I’m sometimes neglecting to go help other people,” Pete Jucker admits. 

This Thanksgiving, the couple still feels the loss. 

“If I had to do over again, I would take my other house back in a heartbeat,” Joy Jucker said. 

But they are encouraging their neighbors through the rebuilding process. 

“You just gotta wait a little extra for the next cement truck,” she said. 

And they are working to help their neighbors along the way. 

“We’re very very thankful to have what we have and we are very thankful this thanksgiving to be able to do what I can to be able to have a little bit of an impact in our community,” Pete Jucker said. 

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