A Personal Account of One Tennessee Family's Harrowing Experience—And a Message of Hope

Fire firefighters have battled more than 20 large fires in Gatlinburg, Tennessee within the past 36 hours. More than 15,000 acres have been scorched, 14,000 people have been evacuated and at least 250 buildings have been damaged or destroyed.

Greg Ruff, who's father-in-law was evacuated while the house across the street burned, talked with Glenn on radio Wednesday about his family's harrowing experience.

"He's safe now, but he doesn't know if his house is gone. He's an artist. His home, after his wife passed away just a few years ago, turned into an art gallery that he lives in, out on Northern Creek. And, you know, all of his original art may be gone. All of his memories. All his kids' memories where they grew up may be gone," Mr. Ruff said.

RELATED: Terrifying Video of Evacuation From #Gatlinburg Fire Goes Viral

In the midst of the tragedy, Mr. Ruff also offered a message of hope that came directly from his father-in-law.

"He just kind of . . . he paused and says, I'm grateful for my life. I've had a good life. I'm glad I'm alive. That stuff doesn't matter. And, you know, that's the kind of stuff we need in our world today. And people like you and your radio program, your TV program, Mercury One, and the people that work for you that are encouraging that type of stuff . . . I just want to tell you I appreciate it, and I appreciate what you're doing," Mr. Ruff said.

For a status of the situation in Tennessee, visit MercuryOne.org/wildfires where you can also make a donation to assist those suffering from these historic and devastating fires.

Enjoy this complimentary clip from The Glenn Beck Program:

Below is a rush transcript of this segment, it might contain errors:

GLENN: Fire firefighters now are battling more than 20 large fires. The last 36 hours, more than 15,000 acres have been scorched, 14,000 people are -- have been evacuated from Gatlinburg, and at least 250 buildings have been damaged or destroyed, 100 of those are in Gatlinburg. People are in bad shape. And Mercury One wants to be there. We're going to -- well, I have some ideas on some things that I want to do, and right now, Mercury One is planning on being out there I think later this week. No one is being allowed in, except for the firefighters now.

But Mercury One is going to be on the scene soon, and we want to do something. And hopefully I'll have more on that tomorrow. But if you'd like to donate, you can go to mercuryone.org. Mercuryone.org.

Here's what is happening. The wildfires quickly grew on Monday night, due to the high winds. There were winds up to, what, 85 or 87 miles an hour. Those are hurricane force winds.

JEFFY: Absolutely.

GLENN: They caused trees to fall, into live power lines, which sparked new fires. The fire actually started -- they say that it was human-caused. We don't know what that means yet. This is, to me -- and I say this cautiously because it might have been somebody just flicking a cigarette out the window.

JEFFY: And they have arrested a couple people earlier this year on arson charges. So --

GLENN: Yeah, it may be arson. But if you look at what's happening over in Israel, Israel is getting pounded by fires set by terrorists. And this has been one thing that I have -- I thought of oh, I don't even know, maybe in 2001 or 2002.

I remember, Jeffy standing together in Tampa saying -- California. I mean, if I'm a terrorist, I come to California. I just set it on fire, and that's easy to do.

And that's what they're now doing in Israel. And I hope this isn't the condition in Gatlinburg.

We have -- we have Greg Ruff on the phone with us now from Gatlinburg. Greg, how are you, sir?

GREG: I'm doing fine. I'm doing great.

GLENN: Tell me what your situation is.

GREG: Well, our situation is my wife's father lives on Northern Creek, just outside of Gatlinburg. And he was -- he had surgery a little over a week ago for cancer and was at home, getting ready to go to bed. And had heard about the fires, but just was going to go to bed.

Well, his stepdaughter, one of -- my stepsister works for the park service. She called him and said -- knowing that he doesn't have a cell phone. He's an artist, and he kind of lives in his own world a little bit in that sense.

And said, no, you're not going to bed, you're going to leave. And so he started packing up. As they did, police were outside, clearing the street.

And he's still gathering things, and they're like saying, "You've got to go." And they looked, and the house just on the other side of his is up in flames. There's fire across the street of a one-lane road going into mountains is on fire.

And so he -- he -- you know, he has been evacuated. We have him now safely. You know, he has a little bit of memory issues. And we were really concerned about that.

But we have him. He's safe now. But he doesn't know if his house is gone. He's an artist. His home, after his wife passed away, just a few years ago, turned into an art gallery that he lives in, out on Northern Creek. And, you know, all of his original art may be gone. All of his memories. All his kids' memories where they grew up may be gone.

GLENN: Oh, my gosh.

How is your house? Where do you live?

GREG: I do not live there. I live in Nashville. And we went to go get him. Went in there. They let us get in and get him. And then so we have him. And we're trying to find a way to get back there.

His sister -- his daughter, I should say, his daughter-in-law who works with the park service, they thought they had lost their home. They found out they did not lose it.

Five people who work for the park services have confirmed they'll lose their home. And so they have to continue to work.

Last night, they had tornado warnings in Gatlinburg. They're like, "Please, no, it's raining. There's tornado warnings." And people were out -- my wife's sister-in-law's husband works for the city. And he was out at a blockade, you know, in -- uncovered in tornado warnings with rain pouring down all around and fires still burning. So it's been -- it's been very hectic to go through all that.

GLENN: Greg, our thoughts and prayers are with you and the family and everybody in Tennessee, wherever you are. And we wish you and your father-in-law, the best of luck. God bless.

CALLER: You know, can I share one thing?

GLENN: Sure.

CALLER: Because I hear you talk a lot about hope, and it's impacted me and my life. And so we -- my father-in-law goes through all this. We get him to our last night. And I'm doing some work because I need to do some work. And I'm listening. And he's downstairs with his daughter, and they're laughing and all that kind of stuff. I go down, and a few minutes later, and we're talking. He just kind of -- he paused and says, "I'm grateful for my life. I've had a good life. I'm glad I'm alive. That stuff doesn't matter."

And, you know, that's the kind of stuff we need in our world today. And people like you and your radio program, your TV program, Mercury One, and the people that work for you that are encouraging that type of stuff. And I just want to tell you I appreciate it, and I appreciate what you're doing.

GLENN: Thank you, Greg, I appreciate you telling us that. God bless. Thank you.

Featured Image: A charred bird cage sits in the smoldering remains of a home in the wake of a wildfire November 30, 2016 in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Thousands of people have been evacuated from the area and over 100 houses and businesses were damaged or destroyed. Drought conditions and high winds helped the fire spread through the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)

Soros is trying to elect MORE TEXAS RINOs. Here's how YOU can stop him.

David McNew / Staff | Getty Images

Texas is under threat of a George Soros-backed takeover.

Soros-funded RINO judges have been elected in some of the highest courts in Texas. These judges implemented restrictions that have blocked nearly a thousand cases of voter fraud from being investigated or prosecuted from across the state. These new restrictions are similar to ones in place in states like George, Arizona, and Wisconsin, leaving Texas more susceptible to election corruption than ever. If Texas falls to corruption, America will lose its largest bastion of conservative electoral power in the nation. Without Texas, Republicans WILL NOT be able to win national elections and liberal corruption will go unchecked across the country.

Fortunately, there is a way to stop this: YOU.

If you live in Texas you have a chance to stand up against corruption and to fight back! Starting Tuesday, February 20th, early voting for the primaries begins, where three of these judges are up for election. Go out and vote. If the right people are voted in, there's a good chance the restrictions will be lifted and election fraud can once again be prosecuted.

But remember, you can't just go in and vote for anyone who has an "R" next to their name. Sorors knows that a registered Democrat would never stand a chance in Texas, so his lackeys register as Republicans and ride the little "R" right into office. So who do you vote for?

Fortunately, Glenn had Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on his show today and Ken gave us his list of judges that he vouches for. His list is as follows:

  • Gina Parker
  • Lee Finley
  • David Schenck
The Primary Election runs from February 20th to March 5th. This is your chance to get out there and make a difference. It might be the most important election you ever participate in. If you need to know where your nearest polling location is, or any other information regarding the election, you can go to votetexas.gov to find out more.
It's time to stand up.

Hypocrisy EXPOSED: The 'Amazon Files' and what WE are doing about it

SOPA Images / Contributor | Getty Images

Who is really banning books?

For years now, Conservatives have been taking flak from the left for supposed "book bans." The left likes to compare these "bans" to Nazi book burnings, accusing the right of sweeping authoritarian decrees designed to suppress information. In reality, this is a movement largely motivated by parents, who want to remove inappropriate books from children's libraries.

But if you want to discuss authoritarian book bans, look no further than the White House. As Glenn recently covered, the Biden administration has been pressuring the world's largest bookseller, Amazon, into suppressing books they disagree with.

On February 5th, 2024, Ohio Representative Jim Jordan released a slew of subpoenaed documents that exposed pressure placed on Amazon by the Biden Administration. The documents, which Jordan dubbed "The Amazon Files" after Elon Musk's "The Twitter Files," revealed an email conversation between Andrew Slavitt, a former White House senior adviser, and Amazon employees. In these emails, Slavitt complained that the top search results for books on "vaccines" were "concerning" and then requested that Amazon intervene. Amazon initially refused, not out of some altruistic concern for the free exchange of information. They thought any action taken would be "too visible" and would further exasperate the “Harry/Sally narrative,” referring to the outrage that followed Amazon's removal of Ryan T. Anderson’s book When Harry Became Sally.

Despite this initial refusal, Amazon agreed to meet with the White House a few days later. The number one item on their agenda was removing books from the website. An Amazon employee even admitted that the reason they even took this meeting was due to the pressure being placed on them by the Biden Administration.

What was the result of this meeting? Amazon caved. They began to implement ways of limiting the outreach of books that challenged the mainstream vaccine narrative and other books the White House might not like.

The White House was caught red-handed pressuring the world's largest bookseller to restrict the sale of books they consider in opposition to their narrative, and they have the gall to accuse conservatives of information suppression. This is just ONE of many actions committed by the Biden Administration that are more characteristic of a dictator than a president.

What can you do about it? Fortunately, you are not dependent on Amazon and its corrupted algorithm to help you find books. Every week right here on GlennBeck.com, we highlight books that Glenn is reading or talking about in our "Glenn's Bookshelf" series. Here you can find a wide selection of books free from Amazon's filters. Be sure to sign up for Glenn's newsletter to find out about new additions to "Glenn's Bookshelf" every week.

10 times Biden has acted like a DICTATOR

Bloomberg / Contributor | Getty Images

The left-wing media's most recent tirade is accusing Trump of being a dictator. But, as Glenn said, "Everything they're accusing us of, they're doing."

Since day one, the Biden administration has overstepped the bounds placed on the executive branch set by the Constitution. In Glenn's most recent TV Special, he examined ten times Biden acted like a dictator, NOT a president. Here are 10 of Biden's Dictator Moves, and click HERE to get ALL of the research that went into this week's Glenn TV special:

5 ways to protect your First Amendment rights. Number 4 will surprise you.

Buyenlarge / Contributor | Getty Images

Every day it seems Glenn covers another story revealing how people across the world at all levels of power DESPISE the fact that YOU have rights, and they are actively trying to curtail them. Recently, there has been a string of attacks against the rights outlined in the First Amendment: the freedom of religion, the freedom of speech, the freedom of press, the freedom of assembly, and the freedom to petition.

As a refresher, the First Amendment reads as follows:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

This is powerful stuff, there is a good reason the Founding Fathers made it the FIRST Amendment. It's also the reason why power-hungry elites are attacking it. These attacks are designed to control the way you think, speak, and believe, vote, what you read, and who holds your representatives responsible. The First Amendment is our strongest weapon against tyrants, and they know it.

So what can you do about it? Hope that some wig in Washinton will eventually do something? We know how well that works. The best thing to do is to stay active, engage in the issues you care about, and exercise your rights.

So where to start? Here are a few things YOU can do to protect your First Amendment rights:


The best way to flex your Freedom of Religion is to—you guessed it—practice your faith. Become an active member in your place of worship, go to scripture studies, invite your friends to that late afternoon event, and walk the life. This can impact the way you spend money as well. Shop the businesses and brands that share your values, and don't shop at the ones that scorn them. Keeping the community alive and healthy is the best way to ensure that generations to come will be able to experience the freedom you enjoy.


Much like religion, the best way to protect your freedom of speech is... to speak. Engage your friends and family in polite, civil conversation. Stand up for what you believe in, and make your case to your peers. Just remember to keep it friendly. No one ever won an argument by shouting down their opponent. The civil exchange of ideas is the cornerstone of our republic, and a dialogue where the participants are well-informed, considerate, compassionate, and open-minded can have permanent impacts on all involved.


Freedom of the Press seems a little tricky at first. Unless you work for the media, what are you supposed to do? Quit your job and go work for the local newspaper? The good news is that exercising this right is not nearly that difficult. In fact, you are currently doing it. The best thing you can do is to read from outlets that produce informative content. Want to know what Glenn consumes to stay informed every day? Sign up for Glenn's Morning Brief newsletter to get all the stories Glenn gets sent to his desk every day sent straight to your inbox.


Anna Moneymaker / Staff | Getty Images

Freedom of assembly is one of the more impactful yet underutilized freedoms in the First Amendment. Peaceably assembling and protesting with like-minded individuals can hugely influence politicians and policies while simultaneously creating community and fellowship between attendees. It's understandable why more people don't turn out. We're all busy people with busy schedules, and flying out to D.C. for the weekend seems like a daunting task to many. Thankfully, you don't have to go out all the way to D.C. to make a difference. Gather some like-minded people in your town and bring awareness to issues that impact your community. Big change starts locally, and exercising your freedom to assemble can be the catalyst to lasting impact.


If you've been a long-time listener of Glenn, then you will have heard a few of his calls to action where he asks his audience to contact their representatives about a particular piece of policy. There is a good reason Glenn keeps on doing those: they work. Whether it's your local mayor or your senator, a call and an email go a long way. If you really want to make a change, convince your friends and family to reach out as well.