Tags: smoky mountain | wildfires | gatlinburg | pigeon forge

Smoky Mountain Wildfires Empty Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge

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By    |   Tuesday, 29 Nov 2016 09:55 AM

Smoky Mountain wildfires threatened Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge as “flames and choking smoke” swept the area Monday night, causing fire officials to order mandatory evacuation.

Fire spokeswoman Trish McGee confirmed some areas in the Tennessee mountain resort towns of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge were being evacuated, according to USA Today, including Dolly Parton's theme park Dollywood.

“Three county school buses are available for emergency transport and are being dispatched as needed to transport those who need to evacuate,” said McGee.

Monday night, fire crews were working to get at least 14 fires under control around towns in Sevier County, which is where a lot of tourists stay due to its many attractions in addition to Dollywood, NBC News reported. Winds were traveling as fast as 70 mph as the crews worked on the fires.

“Fire was coming over the mountains, and the smoke was so bad we could barely breathe as we were trying to pack up,” said Mike Gill, who was trying to evacuate the area with his wife.

“A roller coaster is on fire at Goats on the Roof,” a theme park in Pigeon Forge, Gill added.

The Gills live in an RV as they work Christmas seasonal jobs at Dollywood, NBC News noted.

“We were just told by the Gatlinburg Fire Department that they had told everybody in Gatlinburg to get out,” said Judy Tucker, director of Sevier County’s E-911 call center, around 9 p.m. on Monday. “….No one’s getting through to anyone. Phones are ringing and not being answered anywhere. It’s chaos.”

Gatlinburg Fire Chief Greg Miller encouraged people to “pray” as he addressed the media at a news conference Monday night, according to NBC News.

“We urge the public to pray,” Miller said. “I know that it’s hard to potentially think about losing a home or a place that you’ve worked your entire life to build, but we are dealing with a situation that is very dynamic.”

According to Tennessee emergency officials, at least 100 buildings had been affected by the intense fires in the Great Smoky Mountain area by early Tuesday, Fox News noted.

The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency said in a news release that at least 10 Gatlinburg homes have been affected by the wildfires, including a 16-story hotel, and 30 structures have been burned, Fox 17 Nashville reported.

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Smoky Mountain wildfires threatened Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge as “flames and choking smoke” swept the area Monday night, causing fire officials to order mandatory evacuation.
smoky mountain, wildfires, gatlinburg, pigeon forge
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2016-55-29
Tuesday, 29 Nov 2016 09:55 AM
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