The entire family was shocked to hear about the wildfires sweeping through our favorite Smokey Mountain towns of Gatlinburg and nearby Pigeon Forge. Only a few days ago we were talking about returning to that picturesque corner of America, but the extreme drought conditions and insane winds and fires made the area a prime target for uncontrollable wildfires.
News about the Gatlinburg Fires
Friends on Facebook are passing around information on what is happening in that mountainous corner of Tennessee, but the major news outlets (AOL cough cough) seem to have buried the story. So far four people have died, but others are still missing. 150 buildings burned down, with 400 suffering damage. An estimated 15,000 acres of the Great Smokey Mountains National Park was caught up in this fire, the biggest wildfire in 100 years of Tennessee history. I read last night at least 70 homes in Wears Valley burned down- and the fire was reaching the Dollywood cabins. That is a really big fire! There were mandatory evacuations for the entire town of Gatlinburg and in parts of Pigeon Forge. (Evacuations have been lifted from Pigeon Forge at this time). I am wondering how many hikers were on the 70 mile Appalachian Trail stretch through the Great Smokey Mountains National Park- and hope they escaped to safety.
Here’s a link to the Weather Channel on exactly was is happening in Gatlinburg: https://weather.com/news/news/tennessee-gatlinburg-pigeon-forge-fire
Who Started the Gatlinburg Fire?
- Stephanie Dube Dwilson’s story for the news site Heavy, states that this disaster was caused by a possible man-made fire on Chimney Tops Trail. We hiked that very trail two summers ago in the Great Smokey Mountains National Park, and as I recall, Chimney Tops had a connecting trail to the Georgia to Maine Appalachian Trail. Was it a campfire not properly put out? You can read Dwilson’s article on the Heavy website: http://heavy.com/news/2016/11/gatlinburg-tennessee-fire-cause-what-who-started-arson-wildfire-source-name-arrest-origin/
- On the WildFire Today website, you can see the fire map and the distance from Chimney Tops to Gatlinburg: http://wildfiretoday.com/2016/11/28/wildfires-in-great-smoky-mountains-national-park-cause-evacuation/
- You can read the latest fire news, trail closures and alerts from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the most visited national park America: https://www.nps.gov/grsm/learn/news/fire-update-11-29-4am.htm
Gatlinburg Fire Relief
Can you help?
The businesses in the area are accepting donations monetary/food/water. You can check out detailed information at The Tennessean news website: http://www.tennessean.com/story/news/crime/2016/11/29/gatlintburg-pigeon-forge-fires-how-help/94592030
And also on the Channel 9 news page: http://www.9news.com/news/how-to-help-gatlinburg-pigeon-forge-fire-evacuees/358322920
It is understandable that not everyone is able to send money/make donations, but passing on this information may get it to those that can, so thank you for sharing.