Huge fire forces evacuations at Gatlinburg, Tennessee, arson suspected
A roaring 500-acre fire is threatening structures in downtown Gatlinburg, Tennessee, where officials have ordered mandatory evacuations. Roads near Great Smoky Mountains National Park are closed, as firefighters battle the flames and gusty winds.
There have been no fatalities so far, but three burn victims are in critical condition at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, the Tennessean reported.
When you play my mixtape in #Gatlinburgpic.twitter.com/RPJ0L63J4U— Ian Mcmichael (@ianhmcmichael) November 29, 2016
More than 100 structures have been destroyed by the massive fire, including the home of Gatlinburg Mayor Mike Werner.
RT @Bexnoell: #Gatlinburg new pics pic.twitter.com/aHDfWLaXfG— Paige Anna Flake (@Paigeanna08) November 29, 2016
This is insane and scary as hell. #Gatlinburgpic.twitter.com/17NI7HZZ1r— Dory (@Dory) November 29, 2016
“It’s very dangerous weather conditions,” Dana Soehn with the National Park Service told WATE. “We’ve had trees coming down, limbs coming down and the fire is continuing to grow.”
Bright glow of #Gatlinburg TN wildfires on VIIRS Day/Night Band, in spite of thick clouds overhead https://t.co/41YStVaouC h/t @northflwxpic.twitter.com/anZHuUZOTq— Scott Bachmeier (@CIMSS_Satellite) November 29, 2016
Residents have been evacuated to a Red Cross shelter at the Gatlinburg Community Center, while Rocky Top Sports World has also been converted into a shelter.
Applewood is providing free hot meals to #wildfire rescue workers - 240 Apple Valley Rd #Sevierville. @wbir @6News @wvlt https://t.co/SWfXS38KH4— (@applewoodfarm) Nov 29 2016
Officials suspect arson in the fire, which started over the weekend.
Video: Driving through downtown #Gatlinburg this morning was rather eerie... roadway closed due to area fires. https://t.co/OKLTAFWL3x— (@MarkNagiTDOT) Nov 29 2016
Blazes were too close for comfort for people staying at the Park Vista Hilton hotel. They shared harrowing images on Twitter.
#Gatlinburg park vista Hilton hotel pic.twitter.com/MN2CaLNYDF— ローガン Logan (@Redwolfstone123) November 28, 2016
More Park Vista Hotel from FB. #Gatlinburgpic.twitter.com/dWiYrV0tyf— NewMarketMauler (@NewMarketMauler) November 29, 2016
Embers are being picked up by wind gusts, further spreading the fire. Rain is expected late Monday evening.
"Nobody is allowed into the city at this time," the National Weather Service Morristown Tennessee tweeted at 9:25pm ET. "Evacuate immediately and follow any instructions from emergency officials."
Mandatory evacuations are underway for #Gatlinburg and portions of #PigeonForge. #MRXwx#TNwxpic.twitter.com/qVCCTwwRyP— NWS Morristown (@NWSMorristown) November 29, 2016
Eye-witnesses driving near the massive fire also posted video footage.
Fire on Spur #Gatlinburg#wildfire#GSMNPpic.twitter.com/njiFjgvAIl— Cain (@caintreadway) November 29, 2016
The fire is reportedly reaching Dollywood, the theme park partly owned by country music singer Dolly Parton. Dollywood is an estimated 15-mile drive from Gatlinburg.
The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency is asking Sevier County residents to stay off mobile devices unless it's for emergency calls @wvlt— Brittany Tarwater (@WVLTBrittany) November 29, 2016
Photos of fire currently burning along Dollywood Lane in Pigeon Forge pic.twitter.com/tcLqHKCxQW— Darren Reese (@GSunDarrenReese) November 29, 2016