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Smoky Mountain wildfires take over Gatlinburg

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As winds spread the growing wildfires throughout the Smokies, several places were under mandatory evacuation Monday night as fires spread around Sevier County in Tennessee.

The area’s largest theme park, Dollywood, was keeping a close eye on the fires and the safety of their guests and neighbors in Gatlinburg. According to USA Today, Dollywood spokesman, Pete Owens, said that no structures within the park had been damaged as of Monday night. Nonetheless, fire crews were standing guard around the park. Along with park guests, many people in Pigeon Forge were evacuated, as well.

Owens said that their staff evacuated nineteen occupied cabins in the park’s cabin resort area, as well as evacuated guests from fifty rooms in Dollywood’s DreamMore resort.

With the majority of the wildfires listed as 100% contained on the Division of Forestry’s website on Sunday, firefighters were hoping the 2-plus inches of rainfall forecast for Monday and Tuesday nights would bring an end to the ongoing wildfire emergency. But Monday’s high wind speeds exacerbated the situation, and the rain has yet to fall,” according to USA Today.

The high winds and lack of rain in this part of the country is creating the perfect environment for these Smoky Mountain wildfires to spread quickly. Not to mention the wind knocking trees down and only adding more fuel to the fire.

Officials reported fire activity near the Park Headquarters initially, as well as between Elkmont and Newfound Gap Road off of the Sugarland Mountain Trail approximately one mile south of the Husky Gap Trail intersection.

“The fire is currently moving northeast, burning primarily along the ground layer through duff and leaf litter. Gusting winds have caused the fire to spot across the ridges in the Chimney Tops and Bullhead Ridge areas,” the release stated Monday night.

To stay updated on the location and severity of these wildfires, visit Active Fire Mapping Program‘s website.

You can read about how climate change is connected to wildfires here.

Ellen contributed to this piece.