03 December 2016

New death toll raised to 14 in Gatlinburg wildfires, new victim identified as 81-year-old Elaine Brown; friend says one of the missing was found alive

Photo @GSunDarrenReese/Twitter

GATLINBURG - Elaine Brown, age 81, of 2703 Clabo Road, Sevierville, has been identified as the 14th victim of the Gatlinburg wildfires. She sustained a medical event causing a single-vehicle accident on Wears Valley Road while fleeing the fire, according to a joint news release from Sevier County, City of Gatlinburg, Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, and Great Smoky Mountain National Park officials.

Fourteen lives have been lost due to the swift-moving wildfires in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Gatlinburg and the number of fire-related injuries has been raised to 134. The Chimney Tops 2 fire was 38 percent contained on Sunday afternoon, Dec. 4.

One of those listed as missing, Louise Brooke, who lived at 316 Ski Mountain Road, has reportedly been found alive, according to her acquaintance Shirley Shawhan, who said the TBI told her Brooke had been located. Shawhan said, "She used to work at a motel in Gatlinburg that my family and I used to go to. We have kept in touch with her over the years. We had a picture of her we wanted to get to the TBI since none were available. When I called them yesterday (Friday), to see about e-mailing the pic, they told me she'd been located alive." This has not been independently confirmed at this time.

On Monday, Dec. 5, Gatlinburg city officials will continue a damage assessment of roadways, infrastructure, and public works as the city prepares to open for business later this week. Property owners, business owners, renters, and lease holders will continue to have daily access to properties to allow appropriate time for cleaning, smoke removal, and securing their properties. Daily access will now be allowed from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The curfew remains in effect from 6:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m.
• 1,684 structures have been damaged or destroyed by the fire.
• There are currently 23 crews, 46 engines, 6 helicopters, 5 dozers, 713 total personnel fighting the Chimney Top 2 Fire as a part of the Type 1 Federal Incident Management Team.
• The evacuated areas in Gatlinburg are open for access each day from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. through the check point at Gatlinburg City Hall via East Parkway (Hwy. 321) and Glades Road. This restriction shall remain in effect until the city reopens for the general public.
• The curfew remains in effect from 6:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. nightly.
• The Spur parkway is open only from Pigeon Forge to the Gatlinburg Welcome Center. There will be no access to Wiley Oakley from the Spur.
• Wiley Oakley Drive and Greystone Heights Road remain inaccessible due to critical utility work. Emergency crews are working to open it as soon as possible.
• The Water Boil Advisory is still in effect for Gatlinburg, with the exception of the areas east of City Hall.
The following individuals lost their lives in the fire and have been identified by officials:

Rev. Ed Taylor
Rev. Ed Taylor, age 85, of 644 Woodland Drive in Gatlinburg. He was well-known for marrying thousands of couples as part of Gatlinburg Chapel Ministries and had just retired last year. A World War II veteran, Taylor died from smoke inhalation and was found outside his home, his son learned from investigators. His 10-year-old teacup poodle BeBe had been found wandering outside the home. The dog is now with family members.

Brad Phillips

Bradley Phillips, age 59, discovered at 412 Long Hollow Road. Family members told WBIR that he was found near his home and asked for prayers during this difficult time. Family members had posted on Twitter after the fire when they had been unable to contact Phillips, asking for help locating him.

Constance Reed, 34; and daughters Chloe Reed, 12, and Lily Reed, 9, all of 347 Wiley Oakley Dr.
Constance Reed with
 husband Michael Reed
Lily Reed with father Michael
Chloe Reed
All three were discovered near their Wiley Oakley home. Constance Reed's husband Michael Reed had gone for a ride with their 15-year-old son Nicholas, unaware the fire was near their home. His wife had called to say the fire was across the road from their house and he told her to call 911 and get out of the house. He tried to drive back to reach his wife and daughters, but the road was blocked. Constance Reed and her daughters didn't make it as they attempted to flee on foot, according to Sheriff's Department reports. Michael Reed was notified of his wife's death around 10 a.m. this morning, Saturday, Dec. 3, and learned that his daughters were the two unidentified bodies found with his wife, according to Dana Soehn of the National Park Service at a press conference Saturday afternoon.

Alice Hagler
Alice Hagler, age 70, a retired grandmother who lived in Chalet Village. She had two hip replacements and couldn't move around very well, according to her son. She was found in her cabin. She was worried about the heavy winds and was on the phone with her son James Wood, who lived with her but wasn't home at the time, when her cabin caught fire around 8:30 p.m. Monday. He told her to get out, but she didn't make it. Her other son, Lyle Wood, is pastor of a church in Savannah, Georgia.

Jon and Janet Summers, age 61, of Memphis, both perished in the fire at Chalet Village. They were vacationing in Gatlinburg with their three sons, Branson Summers, 23, and twins Wesley and Jared Summers, 22. The sons were separated from their parents after the family tried to escape from Chalet Village by car but a downed tree blocked their path and they attempted to escape the flames on foot, according to CNN. The boys were found together, unconscious from smoke inhalation, and suffering burns, according to Fox13 News. Their uncle Jim Summers said the boys had to run through walls of fire all the way down the mountain as the heavy winds fanned flames into an inferno on both sides of the road. Jared was released from the hospital Thursday, but Wesley and Jared remain hospitalized at Vanderbilt Medical Center's burn center.

John Tegler, age 71, and his wife Janet Tegler, age 70, of Canada, were found dead on Skyline Drive in Chalet Village. The couple, originally from Woodstock, Ontario, Canada, was visiting their Gatlinburg vacation home to celebrate the long Thanksgiving weekend in the US, their son-in-law Dave LaPointe told the Canadian Press. They were attempting to flee when the wildfire overtook the Chalet Village area and were found near their home. They would have celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary this year. They were in Gatlinburg with their daughter Jessica Tegler of Roswell, GA, who had already left because she had to be back to work in Roswell on Monday. The Teglers were planning to leave Gatlinburg Monday, but the road was closed.

May Evelyn Norred Vance, 75, of Gatlinburg, died of a heart attack trying to escape the fire and as a result of suffering from smoke inhalation, officials said. She was a grandmother and the wife of Jimmy Vance Sr. The Vances were formerly of Nashville.

--An unidentified person found in a room at the Travelers Motel off U.S. Highway 321.

--Three unidentified people found in a home on Campbell Lead Road.

Pam Johnson - Missing
STILL LISTED AS MISSING is Pamela "Mama Pam" Johnson, 59, a longtime employee of McKinney's Market on Highway 321. She left the market before it burned and has not been found. She was living at Travelers Motel in Gatlinburg on Ski Mountain Road. Her granddaughter Karyssa Dalton told the Knoxville News-Sentinel that Pam had a backpack filled with supplies and was ready to evacuate. She was in a room at the Travelers Motel caring for a neighbor's pets, and was planning to go back to her own room to get her disabled chihuahua if the situation got worse. Karyssa tried to call her grandmother back at around 10:36 p.m. Monday night, but she didn't answer. Authorities, Karyssa said, told her the body found at the Traveler Motel was a male and was not in her grandmother's friend's room nor in her own room. Earlier reports that Johnson had been found at LeConte Medical Center proved to be inaccurate.

***UPDATE: Louise Brooke, who lived at 316 Ski Mountain Rd. No photo available. Friends have been trying unsuccessfully to contact Brooke. ***A friend of Brooke's, Shirley Shawhan, reports that she called the TBI to provide a picture of Brooke and was told that she had been found alive. This has not been confirmed by authorities at this time.

Charles "Buck" and Diane Taylor, who lived on Ivy Road in Gatlinburg, haven't been heard from since the fire. Their friend Joyce Clemmer posted on the Gatlinburg Fire Missing or Found Facebook page on Dec. 2 at 8 a.m. that their phone was not accepting calls and they have not responded to texts.

Officials released the following details regarding the coordinated public response in warning the public about the fire storm. Officials worked diligently to coordinate the warning to the public before and during the catastrophic wildfire event that impacted Gatlinburg, other communities in Sevier County, and the park. Throughout the day, on Monday, November 28, officials sent media releases, utilized social media, and held media briefings to alert the public about the status of the fire to help them remain aware of the urgency of the continuously evolving situation.

Notifications were sent to the general public through widespread media coverage beginning with multiple news releases from the park beginning at approximately 10:00 a.m., regular news briefings beginning at 2:00 p.m., and the downtown Gatlinburg siren alert system to warn the public about the impending dangerous winds and fire threat. Officials made door-to-door notifications, beginning at noon, to affected communities.

Throughout the day, the command post was in contact with state emergency agencies about emergency response. At approximately 8:30 p.m., the command post contacted the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) requesting an Emergency Alert System (EAS) evacuation message to be sent to the Gatlinburg area through the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS), a system which has the capability of sending text messages to mobile devices. However, communications between the agencies was interrupted due to disabled phone, internet, and electrical services. Due to this communication failure, the emergency notification was not delivered as planned through IPAWS as an EAS message or as a text message to mobile devices. At the same time, the National Weather Service was unable to reach the local command post. Through collaboration with the Sevier County Dispatch, they were able to deliver the mandatory evacuation alert through an EAS message to radio and television only. Once communications were re-established, TEMA was able to send a mobile message later in the evening via IPAWS asking Sevier County residents to stay off mobile devices except for emergency use.

Despite the catastrophic events that created barriers to communication, officials utilized all resources available to them at the time to warn the public of the impending threat. The multi-agency response of firefighters, police, and emergency responders continues to work efficiently as they enter the recovery phase.


  1. God bless all of those who lost their lives in this tragedy and to all of those who have worked so tirelessly throughout.

  2. May God be with the families of all those who perished in the fire and to all of those that made it out but lost everything. God Bless all the firefighters who came from miles away to help with this tragic event and all the law enforcement that have spent hours and hours away from their families to keep everyone else safe. Bless all those volunteers who have not stopped to give out supplies and food and things to the people that lost everything. The mountains will be great again. It will take time and alot of manpower but it will happen.

  3. My heart breaks for the older people who couldn't get away. My parents would surely have been among the lost if they were iiving there...Dad in a wheelchair and Mom using a walker with great lack of balance. I am praying for their families for whom this is very tragic. My heart goes out to them.