NewswireTennessee Wildfires Near Smoky Mountains Force Evacuations and Damage Property

Tennessee Wildfires Near Smoky Mountains Force Evacuations and Damage Property

Over 400 different agencies from across the region rushed to eastern Tennessee to fight wildfires that broke out late last month near Great Smoky Mountains National Park. As of this week, the two main fires, Hatcher Mountain wildfire in Wear Valley and the Dupont/Millstone Gap wildfire in Seymour, have been 100 percent contained thanks to the work of emergency personnel and rainfall.

“Words cannot express our appreciation to the agencies that have come from across the Southeast to assist us,” Wears Valley Fire Department stated in a Facebook post. “We have crews from all areas of Tennessee and as far away as Florida.” 

The fires began on March 30 from what is believed to be a brush fire. On that day, the Sevier County Emergency Management Agency reported dry conditions and high winds. There was also a Red Flag Warning issued by the National Weather Service, urging people to refrain from any outdoor burning.

Sevier County Mayor Larry Waters updated the public, reporting three injuries but no fatalities or missing persons, and thanked emergency personnel for their heroic efforts. “This fire could have been much more devastating had we not had this team in place,” Waters said. “Even with winds and low humidity, they were able to stay ahead of it as much as possible and I appreciate their professionalism.” 

According to Sevier County government officials, 221 structures were affected by the fires with 2,498 acres burned by the Hatcher Mountain fire and 959 acres by the Dupont/Millstone Gap fire. Sevier County Emergency Management released an interactive map that shows the status of structure damage and evacuation areas across the county. 

Around 11,000 homes were evacuated as firefighters moved in on the fires. Eventually, crews were overwhelmed by the blazes and had to evacuate, leaving behind major fire equipment. Sevier County Fire Department said that “crews were working extremely hard under terrible fire conditions with multiple structures threatened. It was a very close call that we pray we never have to endure again.”

Image posted by Wears Valley Fire Department

With a no-fly restriction in place for the public, all affected areas of the Hatcher Mountain fire are now open, but county and emergency officials are still urging people to use caution and give space to emergency responders that continue to work. 

“The main thing is human life, we have them home with us,” Pittman Center Volunteer Fire Department said. “Everything else can be replaced, but not our loved ones.” 

People can donate to the cause at the Wears Valley Tn. Hatcher Mountain Fire GoFundMe page.

Cover Photo courtesy of Sevier County Volunteer Rescue Squad

More on fires in our region

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