29 November 2016

30 Structures Burning in Gatlinburg, Mandatory Evacuations in Place, Affected Schools Closed Tuesday

FROM WBIR NEWS ... GATLINBURG - 12 AM UPDATE: There are currently 30 structures on fire in Gatlinburg as residents and guests evacuate the city.

The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency says 30 structures are on fire, including a 16-story hotel on Regan Drive and the Driftwood Apartments in Gatlinburg. The wildfire is also at the edge of the Dollywood property. Despite numerous reports that the fire had reached the popular tourist attraction Dollywood, the theme park sent out a statement saying it had not yet sustained any damage.

NBC's Kurt Chirbas tweeted the statement which read, in part:

"Dollywood crews and firefighters are working to protect the park areas adjacent to a fire burning on Upper Middle Creek Ridge. There is no damage at the park at this time.....For the safety of our guests, earlier this evening, resort staff evacuated families staying in 50 rooms staying at Dollywood's DreamMore Resort and families staying in the 19 cabins at Dollywood's Smoky Mountain Cabins." WMC Action News 5.

Mandatory evacuations are in place for Mynatt Park, Park Vista and Ski Mountain in Gatlinburg. Evacuations have also been ordered for the north end of Pigeon Forge.

There are no reports of fatalities from the fires, according to TEMA. There is one report of an evacuee suffering a burn injury.

There are reports of downed power lines and trees, TEMA said.

The Tennessee National Guard is deploying personnel to Sevier County to help with clearing debris. The Tennessee Highway Patrol and the Tennessee Department of Transportation are assisting with evacuations and traffic control in the area.

Tennessee's Fire Mutual Aid system is coordinating the arrival of 50 to 60 fire apparatuses from fire departments throughout the area, from as far north as Greeneville and as far south as McMinn County, TEMA said.

11 PM UPDATE: Motorists fleeing wildfires in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge packed roads in and out of the towns Monday night as flames and choking smoke driven by wind swept across the area.

Multiple parts of Gatlinburg including downtown Gatlinburg were being evacuated, fire officials said Monday night.

The town set up an evacuation shelter at the Gatlinburg Community Center at 156 Proffitt Road. An evacuation center also was set up at Rocky Top Sports World near Gatlinburg Pittman High School on Highway 321.

Some areas of Pigeon Forge also were being evacuated including residents and guests located in the areas between traffic light 8 and the Spur, according to spokeswoman Trish McGee.

"Three county school buses are available for emergency transport and are being dispatched as needed to transport those who need to evacuate," according to a statement from McGee.

Farther west, fires also were reported above Wears Valley Road near the Dollar General Store. A viewer sent 10News video of the hillside aflame.

In Gatlinburg, National Park Service and Gatlinburg officials stressed the fire posed a serious threat that would not abate until rains came.

"We urge the public to pray. We urge the public to stay off the highways. The traffic that is on the roads is emergency equipment. If (the public) could just stay home and stay tuned to their local media outlet," Gatlinburg Fire Chief Greg Miller said at a 8:30 p.m. press conference.

Residents in the Mynatt Park Neighborhood in Gatlinburg are being asked to voluntarily evacuate due to the threat of wildfire nearby in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Nov. 28, 2016.

In Gatlinburg, other areas under a mandatory evacuation include Mynatt Park Neighborhood, East Foothills Road, Turkey Nest Road and Davenport Road areas. The Savage Gardens areas also is under mandatory evacuation.

Police are going to the area to get people out. City officials urged everyone to get out.

Gatlinburg city officials said high winds were downing power lines, sparking multiple ground fires.

Multiple agencies were responding to the fires in Galinburg including the Knoxville Fire Department. Gatlinburg City Manager Cindy Ogle said she understood the Karns Volunteer Fire Department also was responding.

Fire officials decided about 6 p.m. to impose the evacuation, according to Ogle.

To help with Pigeon Force evacuations, three county school buses were available for emergency transport and were being dispatched as needed to transport those who need to evacuate, according to a release from

The following locations are open and ready to receive those who need shelter: LeConte Center at Pigeon Forge, Pigeon Forge Community Center, Liberty Baptist Church in Wears Valley and Iglesia Cristiana LaDuz De Jesus.

Also open for evacuations: The First Red Bank Baptist Church in Sevierville and First Baptist Church of Sevierville.

Sevier County Schools are closed Tuesday due to the fires, the school district said on its website.

Great Smoky Mountains Park Superintendent Cassius Cash said the fires posed a "very serious situation."

Authorities could not provide an estimate on the total acreage that was burning.

Residents in the Mynatt Park Neighborhood in Gatlinburg are being asked to voluntarily evacuate due to the threat of wildfire nearby in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Nov. 28, 2016. (Photo: Courtesy Nikki Arwood Cochran)

"I know that it's hard to potentially think about losing a home or a place that you've worked your entire life to build, but we are dealing with a situation that is very dynamic," Miller said. "The wind is not helping us. The rain is not here yet."

Authorities are hoping that rain expected Monday night will ultimately douse the spreading wildfires.


  1. I took my _ife on our first date to Gatlinburg. Is it true about all of it being consumed by Fire ? Did it burn all of Cades Cove also ?

    1. I am wondering about Cades Cove also. My husband and I love going through there and hiking the trails. It's such a beautiful place.

  2. No, thankfully Cades Cove was spared.