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“Everything caught fire”: a look back at the Gatlinburg forest fires

GATLINBURG, Tennessee (WATE) – Sunday, November 28 marked the fifth anniversary of the deadly Gatlinburg fires. Forest fires had already been burning in the area for several days, but a “perfect storm” of dry conditions and strong, sustained wind allowed the fire to spread rapidly overnight before a storm entered the area.

The video captured embers blown by the wind and, to make matters worse, first responders also documented numerous glittering power lines.

“Everything was on fire,” former Gatlinburg fire chief Greg Miller said the next morning.

Evacuations have been ordered for Gatlinburg and parts of Pigeon Forge. Over 14,000 people evacuated Gatlinburg alone, but not everyone was able to get out. Fourteen people died, more than 2,400 buildings were destroyed and more than 17,000 acres burned. Downtown Gatlinburg was spared.

Firefighters from Murfreesboro to Johnson City continued to fight the fires on November 29, 2016, but at this point the worst was already over.

Miller said the Great Smoky Mountains National Park’s lack of notice was a “critical failure.”

However, a thorough after-action review by the Home Office found that while no wrongdoing was found by the Great Smoky Mountains National Park teams, there were “weaknesses in the response.” of the park “.

Meanwhile, a lawsuit over the National Park Service’s handling of the 2016 wildfires is still pending 5 years later. Lawyers representing the federal government have asked for the dismissal.


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