November 30, 2016; WBIR
Wildfires fueled by a drought and 90 mph winds consumed more than 15,000 acres of the Great Smoky Mountains in eastern Tennessee on Monday night and Tuesday. As of this morning, there were seven deaths and at least 53 people have sought medical treatment. More than 14,000 people evacuated Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and other parts of Sevier County while emergency responders worked to contain a blaze and to care for those injured and made homeless.
More than 10,000 Sevier County residents are without power. Hundreds of homes and businesses were severely damaged or destroyed. Roads leading into Gatlinburg remain closed to traffic. Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam said that it was the state’s largest fire in more than 100 years. None of the deceased have yet been identified. Some people, including vacationers, are unaccounted for. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has set up a hotline (1-800-TBI-FIND) to coordinate reports of missing persons.
The governor, emergency responders, and others discuss the emergency in this video. The local American Red Cross representative appears at about the 14-minute mark and pleads with the television viewers to not bring in-kind donations to the emergency shelters for the same reasons we are familiar with in other natural disasters, such as during the flooding in Baton Rouge last August.