GATLINBURG, Tenn. Nov 29 2016
Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge Tennessee are under a mandatory evacuation after strong winds blew flames from a nearby wildfire into the towns and caught at least 30 buildings on fire including a 16 story hotel.
The strong winds Monday caused a wildfire on Chimney Top Mountain in Tennessee to spread rapidly into Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge and quickly got out of control firefighters report.
The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) issued a Level 3 State of Emergency late Monday night.
Police say that there are dozens of buildings on fire while firefighters report at least hirty structures were on fire by 10 p.m. Central, including a 16-story hotel on Regan Drive and the Driftwood Apartments.
Mandatory evacuations were ordered for several areas, including downtown Gatlinburg, Mynatt Park, Park Vista and Ski Mounty in Gatlinburg, and for the south part of Pigeon Forge close to Sevierville.
The wildfire is also at the edge of the Dollywood property, TEMA says. WATE reports Pete Owens with Dollywood said 19 cabins that were occupied within Dollywood Smoky Mountain Cabins were evacuated early Monday evening. He said they evacuated Dollywood DreamMore Resort later Monday night.
Owens also said fire crews are in the park and are taking preventative measures to ensure all structures are intact at Dollywood. No structures are on fire and no persons have been injured.
TEMA asked residents not to use their mobile devices unless it’s to make an emergency call as to not inundate the mobile system.
At this time, Sevier County and Gatlinburg officials have established a command center at Gatlinburg City Hall.
State Highway 441 heading into Gatlinburg is closed except for emergency traffic. It is only open to people leaving and evacuating the city.
Sevier, Green and Cocke County schools will all be closed on Tuesday due the wildfires.
Tennessee Department of Health is coordinating to send medical units from surrounding counties to assist with any medical transports.
Tennessee’s Fire Mutual Aid system is coordinating the arrival of 50 to 60 fire engines from local departments around from as far north as Greenville and as far south as McMinn County.
The Tennessee Highway Patrol is deploying strike teams to assist with evacuations and traffic control.
The Tennessee Department of Transportation also has crews assisting with traffic control, while the Tennessee National Guard will be deploying personnel to Sevier County to assist with debris clearance and removal.