Smoky Mountains Burn: Three Killed and Thousands Flee Resort Tennessee Towns as Massive Wildfire Destroys Homes and Businesses
November 29, 2016
Three people have died, and more than 14,000 people have been forced to evacuate from resort towns of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge.
- Sevier County Mayor Larry Waters said Tuesday afternoon that he didn't have any details on the deaths.
- The mayor says authorities are going door-to-door to make sure everyone is safe.
- About a dozen people have been injured.
- Roughly 400 homes and structures were damaged, as there's 'little hope' for relief anytime soon.
- Four people suffered severe burns trying to evacuate and are hospitalized as no deaths have been reported.
- Westgate Resorts, a 16-story hotel and every cabin at Black Bear Falls is believed to have been destroyed.
- Schools in Green, McMinn and Sevier counties will are closed, and more than 12,000 people in Sevier County were without power as of early Tuesday morning.
- Dollywood was evacuated and tourists fled the area as wildfires ripped through Eastern Tennessee Monday.
- Gatlinburg's mayor says they firefighters are still battling hotspots and there will be a curfew in effect Tuesday night.
Above the orange sky from the flames is pictured on Tuesday as many structures in Gatlinburg have been damaged or destroyed from the blaze.
Officials say the blaze has caused the area in Gaitlinburg to resemble the 'apocalypse.' Above Tennessee State Troopers walk into areas surrounded by fire on Tuesday to remove those residents who were trapped.
Officials say thousands of residents and visitors in the Gatlinburg area were evacuated from the Great Smoky Mountains on Tuesday. Above fire officials walk along a road as an SUV evacuates the area on Tuesday morning.
Thousands of residents and visitors in the Gatlinburg area were evacuated from the Great Smoky Mountains, and hundreds of structures have been damaged and destroyed by the fire which is the worse to hit the area in decades as of Tuesday.
'The center of Gatlinburg looks good for now,' Newmansville Volunteer Fire Department Lt. Bobby Balding told the Knoxville News Sentinel on Tuesday. 'It's the apocalypse on both sides (of downtown).'
Gatlinburg mayor Mike Werner said Tuesday that half of the city was impacted by the blaze, but the downtown area is intact and that they will rebuild the city.
Gatlinburg Fire Chief Greg Miller says 12 people have been injured in the wildfires in the Gatlinburg area, most with non-life-threatening injuries.
Three people who suffered burns while trying to flee have been transferred from a Knoxville hospital to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, which has a burn unit. A fourth person is being treated for facial burns in Knoxville. There have been no missing people or deaths reported associated with the fire.
Miller said the fire spread Monday night by winds that at times exceeded 87 miles per hour.
'This is one for the history books,' Miller said at a morning news conference. 'The likes of this has never been seen. But the worst is definitely over with.'
He added that about 14 buildings remain ablaze in the city, as most of them are smoldering. Firefighters are going door to door in the city to make sure no one has been overlooked.
Officials say about 14,000 residents and visitors were evacuated from Gatlinburg alone, and portions of Dollywood have been evacuated as wind speeds top 70 miles per hour in some parts of Tennessee, which has been hit by the worst drought in nearly a decade.
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