Gatlinburg Fire Escalates | Update 1

Updated 11:30 PM PST / 2:30 AM CST

EERY CONNECTIONS

A wildfire seemingly so similar in so many ways to the Fort McMurray (Canada) wildfires where they rush towards a City and destroy everything in its path, overwhelming its own resources.  This appears to have happened in Gatlinburg (Sevier County), Tennessee tonight and into the wee hours where the City is reportedly mostly on fire consuming homes, businesses and iconic landmarks within the popular vacation locale.

In our previous posts about wildfires hitting the State of TN, we reported that a majority of fires started were Arson related.

Gatlinburg FD Firefighter near the Space Needle on November 28th. (Credit:  GFD)

 

ABOUT GATLINBURG, TN

Gatlinburg is a mountainous town located in Eastern Tennessee that is said to be the Gateway to the 520,000 acre Great Smoky Mountains National Park that is a popular vacation resort.  It is home to visitors and residents alike at an elevation of 1289 feet and prideful host to a 407 feet Space Needle observation tower and a Sky Lift, a 2.1 mile aerial cable car that takes in breathtaking views from Downtown to its popular amusement park and ski resort.

The City rests on the border of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and along U.S. Route 441.  The City connects to nearby Cherokee, North Carolina through the park.

FIRE  LEVEL INCREASED TO 3

To give you a rough idea as to the meaning of the numbering system for Fire levels:  1 Catastrophic Disaster and 5 being of normal operations.  The State is currently at a 3.

Though there is no official acres or structures destroyed, but we can tell you that the State

images 4

Canada’s Fort McMurray Fire (Courtesy: @BoucherMItch)

Governor has activated a State of Emergency and mandatory evacuations are now in effect.  The TN National Guard has been activated is assisting with these wildfires.

PREVIOUSLY TOUCHED BY FIRE

Previously, the City of Gatlinburg has been touched by many fires including the infamous Fire of 1992, where a whole city block was engulfed taking with it the Ripley’s Believe It or Not Building (burned to the ground), the Arcade, their spooktacular Haunted House and the Souvenir shop.

Some of the smoke that has poured into the City is said to be from the original 500 acre The Chimney Tops Fire that was burning just outside of the limits in the Great Smoky Mountains.  This was approximately 14 hours ago and reported by local media.  School District officials were forced to move kids from one away from the heavy wildfire smoke pouring in.

Credit: GFD

****

PET BOARDING 

The Barker Lounge is accepting boarding of pets this evening. Contact Lori @ 865-771-3738.

ALERTS!

Stay off Cell Phones!  unless it is an emergency.  Officials wish to have these lines clear to allow for emergency traffic only.

Gatlinburg PD! If you cannot reach 9-1-1, call the City Police Department directly. i.e. stranded, need help, etc. Call with life-threatening emergencies only.

Sevier County Sheriff Office! If cannot reach 9-1-1 or the City Police Department. Call with life-threatening emergencies only.

City Closed! No one is being allowed back into the City. Those who are still in the City, need to evacuate immediately! Also the National Park has been closed as well.

Safe & Well App! Let your friends and loved ones know you are safe and well and/or those looking for loved ones can also use this app.  Go to the American Red Cross app @ https://safeandwell.communityos.org/cms/index.php

Facebook Safety Check App!  Let your friends and loved ones know you are safe and well by checking into Facebook’s activated Safety Check app here –> https://www.facebook.com/about/safetycheck/

LOOKING THROUGH THE EYES OF SOCIAL MEDIA

Here are some that are either mainstream media to residents and/or visitors reporting what is happening on the fire ground.

Less than 1 hour ago

“Mountain Lodge restaurant covered in flames.” –  Media

“Due to the active Wildfire, downtown Gatlinburg is being evacuated as well as areas along the Spur. Unprecedented.” – Gatlinburg TN Facebook Page

“Convention Center being used for an animal shelter.” – Facebook user.

1 hour ago

“Dollywood, Dream More resort and cabins have been evacuated. No report of any damage to structures. Structure protection is currently in place to protect the buildings.” – Media

“Good news for Gatlinburg is lots of rain has come through and more is on the way.” – Twitter User

“30 structures on fire along with a 16-story hotel and The Driftwood apartment building.” – TEMA

“There are about 30 guests still trapped inside the Moore Park Vista Hotel.  They have busted out of the windows at the top of the building to vent out the smoke.  It is simply too dangerous to evacuate and the roads are blocked by down trees.  Firefighters have been in and out of the building.” – Media

“The Wedding Chapel is engulfed.”- Twitter user

2 hours ago

“The first wave of rain only knocked down the flames briefly.” – Media

“We are fine we are on a food break stattion 2 downtown Gatlinburg is pretty much gone we are behind the space needle I’ve never seen such destruction.” – GFD Firefighter

3 hours ago

“One of Gatlinburg’s largest hotels is on fire.  Wind gusts are reportedly up to 70 mph and it’s starting to rain.” – Facebook user

“Gatlinburg residents can exit through Cosby as the safest route.” – Media

“Twitter users are upset mainstream media is not covering that a whole City is on fire.”

“Mandatory evacuations for Gatlinburg and nearby Pigeon Forge.” – NWS Morristown

“It is Raining in Gatlinburg!  It is raining.” – Twitter user

“It was reported as possible Arson that started on November 23rd.” (unconfirmed report) – Facebook user.

4 hours ago

“National Guard being deployed.” – Media

5 hours ago

“Downed power lines from falling trees have started more fires adding to an already disastrous situation. Air Quality very poor.”  – Gatlinburg TN Facebook page.

“Mandatory evacuations now on Ski Mountain, Savage Gardens, E Foothills Road, Turkey and Davenport areas due to wildfire.”  – Gatlinburg TN Facebook page

“Moore Park Vista Hotel seen burning from the outside as the videographer is inside the hotel.” – Media Facebook post.

“Those exiting from Gatlinburg, residents are being urged to exit from Highway 321.” – Media

“Fire jumped fire break blocking way out through Pigeon Fork. Only way out is through Highway 321 through Cosby to Interstate.” – Twitter user

14 hours ago

“The fire in the is burning about 500 acres and creating unhealthy air. Gatlinburg is safe for now.” – 14 hours ago – Gatlinburg TN Facebook page

 

(c) The #NWFireBlog