About 100 homes damaged by fire in Gatlinburg area, officials say

Wildfire on Chimney Tops in Great Smoky Mountains National Park (Courtesy: WATE/Report It! Chris Higgins)
Wildfire on Chimney Tops in Great Smoky Mountains National Park (Courtesy: WATE/Report It! Chris Higgins)


ATLANTA (AP) – The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency says officials in the Gatlinburg area estimate that about 100 homes have been damaged or destroyed by flames from spreading wildfires.

Emergency officials in Tennessee ordered evacuations in downtown Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge and in other areas of Sevier County near the Smoky Mountains while crews continue to battle the blaze. Officials say the wildfire has set 30 structures ablaze in Gatlinburg, including a 16-story hotel. TEMA says no deaths have been reported, though one person was burned while evacuating.

Officials say there are about 1,200 people sheltering at the Gatlinburg Community Center and the Rocky Top Sports Park. Several other shelters have opened to house those forced from their homes.

TEMA says National Guard troops are being sent in to help out as wildfires continue to spread in Gatlinburg and surrounding areas in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

TEMA spokesman Dean Flener says the troops will transport first responders, perform welfare checks and remove debris.

Emergency officials in Tennessee ordered evacuations due to the blaze in downtown Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge and in other areas of Sevier County. Officials say the wildfire has set 30 structures ablaze in Gatlinburg, including a 16-story hotel. TEMA says no deaths have been reported, though one person was burned while evacuating.

Officials say there are about 1,200 people sheltering at the Gatlinburg Community Center and the Rocky Top Sports Park.

Meanwhile, officials say about 12,000 people are without power and three school systems had canceled classes Tuesday.

Authorities said 22 other large wildfires were burning throughout the Southeast U.S.

(Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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