What You Need to Know About the Gatlinburg Wildfire

Update: 12/7/2016 3:30 pm

Authorities held a press conference today releasing new information regarding the investigation into the cause of the wildfires. During the conference, it was revealed that authorities had charged two juveniles in connection with the fires. They were not able to release any information about the suspects, except that they are underage, are not from Sevier County, and are from the state of Tennessee. Tips coming in from the public played a significant role in the apprehension of the subjects, with more than 40 tips coming in within minutes of the tip line’s establishment. A hearing is scheduled for the suspects within the next 72 hours, and authorities have noted that they will provide more information as it becomes available.

Update: 12/6/2016 12:00 pm

Gatlinburg is set to open this coming Friday. Relief efforts are underway with the help of the several distribution centers throughout the region and the different funds set up to help the victims. The Chimney 2 Fire is increasingly being contained, while all of the fires in the Gatlinburg area have been successfully put out. Downtown Gatlinburg and the Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Community were unaffected by the fires, so visitors should expect to be able to enjoy some time of their vacations in Gatlinburg starting Friday. We have had a good amount of rain that has assisted in the firefighting effort and in protecting areas adjacent to the fire. As stated in the previous update, Pigeon Forge and Sevierville are 100% open for business and are conducting business as usual. If you had a vacation to the Smokies planned, we encourage you to continue with those plans. The best way to help in the recovery efforts is to continue to choose the Smokies as your vacation destination.

Today’s fire maps… Note no change in acreage for the fires. The fires are not spreading, and the containment is increasing each day. #chimneytops2fire #cobblynobfire

Posted by Chimney Tops 2 Fire on Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Update: 12/2/2016 9:00 am

We want to start this update by thanking each and every one of you for your continued support of the Smokies region. We have received hundreds of calls, messages, and comments offering support, kind words, and prayers. It means so much to know how much our little part of the world means to you. While the recovery process continues in Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and Sevierville are 100% open for business. We encourage you to continue with your plans to visit the Smokies, as it’s one of the best ways to help in the recovery.

Updates on the Fire

Following a press conference from the city of Gatlinburg, we have some updated information. Starting tomorrow, business and home owners will be allowed to enter parts of Gatlinburg. This is the first time since the mandatory evacuation that citizens have been allowed back in the city. Another piece of good news was regarding the roads. All roads in Gatlinburg will be open and accessible to locals as they transverse into town. Only three roads remain blocked, and crews are currently working to open them up.

All of the fires in Gatlinburg are contained, with firefighters monitoring and taking care of hot spots. Fire fighters are taking advantage of a lull in fire activity, due to the recent rains, to hit the fire while it’s down. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is providing regular updates of the Chimney 2 fire on a newly created Facebook page. Recent reports have In other positive news, Cades Cove is now open to the public via the Townsend, TN entrance. The Cades Cove area did not sustain damage from the fires, and remains as a beautiful refuge for visitors of the Smokies. Gatlinburg is determined and ready to get things back to normal. “We’re mountain tough,” said the Mayor of Gatlinburg, Mike Werner, “…and we have a strong faith in God.”

Good morning from the Incident Command Post for Chimney Tops 2 Fire. While area residents, business owners, and…

Posted by Chimney Tops 2 Fire on Friday, December 2, 2016

Unfortunately, a total of 10 people have been reported to have lost their lives as a result of the fire. We want to offer our most sincere condolences and prayers to the families. Fire investigators are still looking into the cause of the fire. They indicated it would be several days before they would know the cause conclusively. The city of Gatlinburg announced yesterday in a press conference that their goal was to open downtown Gatlinburg and River Road next Wednesday.

Continued Relief Efforts

One of the most frequent questions we’ve received is how visitors can help in the recovery process. The best way to help is to donate to the local relief funds. Gatlinburg city officials have asked people to cease in-kind donations; because of the overwhelming support, relief workers are beginning to become inundated by the materials. These four relief funds are dedicated to investing in the local area.

Gatlinburg Relief Fund

The Gatlinburg Relief Fund has been established as SmartBank. You can make donations to the relief fund at any SmartBank location, or by mailing your donation to:

Gatlinburg Relief Fund
SmartBank
P.O. Box 1910
Pigeon Forge, TN 37868

City of Pigeon Forge Fire Relief Fund

Monetary contributions can be made locally at any Citizens National Bank branch to: “City of Pigeon Forge Fire Relief Fund”

My People Fund

Dolly Parton has stepped up for her community again. Bringing together her numerous properties, including Dollywood, Lumberjack Adventure, Dixie Stampede, the Dollywood Foundation, and more, to offer $1000 a month to families that lost their homes in the fire. You can contribute to the My People Fund by visiting the Dollywood Foundation website.

Update: 11/30/2016 4:00 pm

We’re live in #PigeonForge answering your questions about the #Gatlinburg forest fire. Businesses in Pigeon Forge and Sevierville operating as usual.

Posted by Pigeon Forge Chamber on Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Three days into the crisis, Gatlinburg is beginning the process of recovery. Pigeon Forge and Sevierville, largely untouched by the fires, are conducting business as usual. Many people have called and messaged about whether they should continue with their vacation to Pigeon Forge. But, we would like to say that Pigeon Forge is 100% open for business and that continuing to enjoy your vacations in our area is one of the best ways to help out with recovery efforts.

Updates on Firefighting

Following live press conferences from the city of Gatlinburg and more detailed reports from local news stations we now have more information regarding the impact of the forest fire that struct the region Monday.

As of Tuesday, November 29th, there were still 14 fires burning in the park. A press conference this morning by the city of Gatlinburg also communicated that 8 more fires had developed overnight in Sevier County. None of these fires are in Pigeon Forge or Sevierville. Although these fires are contained, they are still a concern and are being managed by firefighters on the ground. Heavy storms moved into our area last night, and Wednesday has seen heavy rains as well. These rains are greatly appreciated for their effect on the firefighting effort, but high winds are still a concern. Firefighters have been putting out small spot fires while maintaining contained hotspots.

A Clearer Picture of the Damage

A clearer picture of the damage has emerged with the confirmation of several properties’ statues. During a live press conference yesterday (Tuesday, November 29th) the city of Gatlinburg confirmed that the majority of downtown Gatlinburg had been spared from damage. You can see a video from WATE below giving us the first look at downtown Gatlinburg since the evacuation order Monday night.

 

 

In addition to downtown Gatlinburg, the status of other areas have come to light. Our Social Media Director drove through the Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Community yesterday on his way back from the Command Center. He did not see any members of the Arts and Crafts community that had been damaged by the fire, but there is no official report confirming that all the members were unscathed. More information will be forthcoming as it is received.

There have been more than 700 structures damaged by the fire in Sevier County. WBIR published a good list of confirmed buildings that were destroyed or damaged as well as notable landmarks that remain intact. Below you can see a map published by WATE that represents the business that have been confirmed to be damaged.

 

 

It is important to note, though, that information on damages is constantly being updated as we are able to more accurately survey the area. For instance, despite early rumors, Dollywood was completely untouched by the fire. Although, several of Dollywood’s luxury cabins were destroyed. Another updated report focuses on Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts. Despite two of its buildings being destroyed by the fire, Arrowmont has survived. Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies is also undamaged, and the animals are completely okay.

The National Park is only beginning their survey of the damage. The Roaring Fork area was hit hard by the fire, but we do not know the extent of that damage to date. The historic cabins of the Elkmont area recieved some damage to their roofs due to high winds, but otherwise escaped any other damage. The famous LeConte Lodge of Mt. LeConte also escaped damage from the fire and is 100% intact.

According to a press conference put on by the city of Gatlinburg this morning, officials are just now getting access to new areas and cleaning parts they haven’t been able to reach. The evacuation order for Gatlinburg is still in effect until further notice. Additionally, the city of Gatlinburg has officially announced that they have cancelled the Christmas parade. Sevierville will still host their Christmas parade Dec. 3, at 11:00 am. There is another press conference at 4:00 pm that should offer additional info on the status of structures in Gatlinburg.

Tragically, reports this evening confirmed that seven people have lost their lives as a result of the fire. This is devastating, and our thoughts and prayers are with the families of these victims.

Evacuee Centers and Finding Missing People

With thousands now facing homelessness after the fire, shelters are still playing an invaluable role for many. If you’ve lost your home or have been forced to evacuate, you can find shelter at the following locations: Rocky Top Sports World, Pigeon Forge Community Center, Liberty Baptist Church in Wears Valley, New Hope Church in Kodak, and the Iglesia Christiana LaDuz De Jesus. For the complete list of evacuation centers available, check out this article.The Red Cross is working to provide evacuees with the materials and goods that they need to survive and remain as comfortable as possible.

There are still several people listed as missing. The TBI has established an 800 number to help families search for their missing loved ones. If you have a loved one that was in Gatlinburg during the crisis they are currently missing you can call 1-800-TBI-FIND.

How You Can Help

One of the most frequent questions we’ve received from visitors during this crisis is how people can help. There are several ways individuals can make a difference to the relief efforts. You can make a $10 donation to the Red Cross by texting “REDCROSS” to 90999. You can also drop off donations to the Red Cross at the Pigeon Forge Fire Hall Station (3229 Rena Street) or the New Hope Church of God in Kodak (2450 Winfield Dunn Parkway).

The Gatlinburg Relief Fund has been established as SmartBank. You can make donations to the relief fund at any SmartBank location, or by mailing your donation to:

Gatlinburg Relief Fund
SmartBank
P.O. Box 1910
Pigeon Forge, TN 37868

One amazing aspect of this disaster is the way the community has come together to recover. There are dozens of businesses and organizations working to raise funds and collect materials for the recovery efforts. You can find a comprehensive list of businesses accepting donations here.

To help coordinate the influx of donated materials to the people that need them, the city of Pigeon Forge has opened a distribution center. David Wear, Mayor of Pigeon Forge, announced the opening of the distribution center on his Facebook Page (which you can see below). You can locate the distribution center at former Boyds Bear Facility at 149 Cates Lane.

PIGEON FORGE OPENS SUPPLY DISTRIBUTION CENTER
TO SERVE SEVIER COUNTY COMMUNITY

PIGEON FORGE, Tennessee (Nov. 30,…

Posted by David Wear on Wednesday, November 30, 2016

We’re live in #PigeonForge answering your questions about the #Gatlinburg forest fire. Businesses in Pigeon Forge and Sevierville operating as usual.

Posted by Pigeon Forge Chamber on Tuesday, November 29, 2016

—-

Original Blog Written November 29, 2016 at 10:00 am

Yesterday (November 28, 2016), due to high winds and extremely dry conditions, a Chimney Tops Trail fire created a new fire near Mynatt Park. The conditions caused the fire to spread, prompting the city of Gatlinburg to issue a mandatory evacuation for its residents due to the threat of the nearby fire.

First responders took serious steps to contain the fire while residents of Gatlinburg evacuated. Meanwhile, the Mayor of Pigeon Forge, David Wear, issued a mandatory evacuation of Pigeon Forge between traffic light #8 and the Spur.

Rains eventually came in the night, assisting firefighters in containing the fire. Additionally, members of the National Guard stepped in to assist. As of the recent update by TEMA, we know the following regarding the damage in Gatlinburg:

  • Hundreds of structures were lost due to the Sevier County wildfire
  • Westgate Resorts and Black Bear Falls were completely destroyed
  • 14,000 residents and visitors evacuated from Gatlinburg
  • 75-100 homes were destroyed in the Cobbly Nob area of Gatlinburg
  • Contrary to initial TEMA report, Ober Gatlinburg reports that their property is still intact

Currently, fires seem to be mostly contained. There are no businesses in Pigeon Forge or Sevierville that have been damaged by the fire. No upcoming events scheduled in Pigeon Forge or Sevierville have been canceled, as well. It is still very smoky in the area, and more than 12,000 people are without power in the area and about 1300 people in shelters. The Red Cross is on the scene, assisting with the evacuees; text REDCROSS to 90999 to donate $10 to help with recovery efforts.

For evacuees, the following locations are accepting those displaced by the fire:

The Leconte Center

Pigeon Forge Community Center

Liberty Baptist Church in Wears Valley

New Hope Church in Kodak

Iglesia Christiana LaDuz De Jesus

Stay connected with us on Twitter and Facebook for information as it arrives.

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