|Wildfire spread from the Chimney Tops in the Great Smoky|
Mountains National Park to nearby towns. (WATE-TV image)
"Emergency responders have struggled to make a dent into the fires that have devastated Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and surrounding areas in Sevier County since high winds helped the flames spread Monday evening," Vellucci and Satterfield write. The Tennessee National Guard said it has made plans to dump water onto the flames from a helicopter. A state forestry officer said winds in advance of the front that brought the rain reached sustained speeds of 30 to 40 mph, with hurricane-force gusts, sweeping the fire from the park into the town. Three fire victims were in critical condition at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, the News-Sentinel reported. UPDATE: The victims have died, The Associated Press reported. A fourth victim has been identified. UPDATE, Nov. 30: Three more victims have been identified, and some people are missing, authorities said. UPDATE, Dec. 1: The death toll reached 11.
|Fire on Crockett Mountain above Sky Lift and The Gatlinburg Inn|
(Photo circulated on social media)
UPDATE, Nov. 30: Hotels and other downtown businesses are reopening, as soon as gas service can be restored. Authorities said 700 buildings or other structures had been damaged or destroyed.