LIVE: TN Wildfires cause evacuation of downtown Gatlinburg

(From: WATE)

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GATLINBURG, TN (WATE) – Downtown Gatlinburg is being evacuated due to wildfires in western Tennessee.

Wildfires near Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and Great Smoky Mountains National Park have spread rapidly due to high winds.

Gatlinburg Fire Chief Greg Miller says Downtown Gatlinburg is being evacuated for wildfires and officials urge people to exit using Highway 321.

Pigeon Forge residents and guests located in the areas between traffic light 8 and the Spur are under mandatory evacuation. Three county school buses are available for emergency transport and are being dispatched as needed to transport those who need to evacuate.

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
Iglesia Cristiana LaDuz De Jesus

Gatlinburg fire officials have declared an immediate mandatory evacuation of the Mynatt Park, Savage Gardens, East Foothills Road, Turkey Nest Road, Davenport and Ski Mountain areas. Evacuation centers were set up at the Gatlinburg Community Center and Rocky Top Sports World.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials reported fire activity at the Park Headquarters area and a spot fire between Elkmont and Newfound Gap Road off of the Sugarland Mountain Trail approximately 1 mile south of the Husky Gap Trail intersection. The park has closed the Gatlinburg Bypass and Little River Road from Sugarlands Visitor Center to Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Area due to fire activity and downed trees. The park has evacuated employees from the Elkmont and Park Headquarters housing areas. The southbound lanes of the Spur from Pigeon Forge to Gatlinburg are also closed due to fire activity.

“It’s very dangerous weather conditions,” said Dana Soehn with the National Park Service. “We’ve had trees coming down, limbs coming down and the fire is continuing to grow.”

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