The following is an update from the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency as of this morning:
State agencies and local officials evacuated likely thousands residents and visitors from Sevier County last night due to devastating wildfires in-and-around the cities of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. It is very likely 14,000+ residents and visitors evacuated from Gatlinburg alone.
The Chimney Top Fire, which began in the Great Smoky Mountains, spread very rapidly yesterday evening as high winds pushed flames onto private property.
Even with the rain that is currently falling there, the fires continue to burn and structures remain engulfed with little hope that the rainfall will bring immediate relief.
A temporary flight restriction is in place to prevent aircraft from complicating the response.
Numerous roads remain closed and blocked by fallen trees and power lines. State Hwy. 441 heading into Gatlinburg is closed, except for emergency traffic. State Hwy. 441 leaving Gatlinburg is open to evacuating traffic.
Additionally, the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency has liaison officers in Sevier County and has activated the East Tennessee Regional Coordination Center to facilitate resource requests and mission assignments.
FATALITIES and INJURIES
Three persons with severe burns were transferred form University of Tennessee’s Knoxville (UTK) hospital to Vanderbilt Medical Center in Nashville overnight. A fourth with burns to their face continues to be evaluated at UTK. Currently, there are no reports of fatalities.
Sevier County reports 11,595 people without power.
At a peak, an estimated 1,300 people occupied six Red Cross or independently-operated shelters. The latest estimate is 1,100 people in four shelters.
Showers and thunderstorms after 1 p.m., Eastern, today with winds 5 to 15 mph, and gusts to 20 mph. High near 69. Precipitation chance 80 percent.
Tonight, a chance of showers and thunderstorms, then showers likely and possibly a thunderstorm after 10 p.m., Eastern. Mostly cloudy with a low around 59. Breezy, with a south wind 5 to 10 mph increasing to 15 to 20 mph after midnight. Winds could gust as high as 35 mph. Chance of precipitation is 70 percent.
TEMA is asking residents in Sevier County to stay off mobile devices unless it is for emergency calls to prevent taxing the mobile system.
WBIR has published some information on how you can help fire evacuees – please click here.
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