Fires Destroy Large Swathes of Southeast US; Gatlinburg TN Leveled

Bre Williams, Staff Reporter

For three days, what were thought to be wildfires have broken out over 15,000 acres of land in Tennessee. At  press time at least seven people have been found dead because of the fires, with dozens more listed as missing persons. In Sevier County, Tennessee more than 700 buildings have been destroyed, mostly around the resort town of Gatlinsburg. Countless vehicles were also damaged; the paint and tires sometimes burned off even on those not completely destroyed.

Some people have been rescued from houses that were on fire, and rain helped ease the situation as well. The Gatlinburg ski area and amusement park, major sources of income for the town, are apparently intact.

Monday , November 28, was the first day these local fires started. Winds up to 90 mph scattered the wildfires more and more. These strong winds also broke down power lines leading people without electricity and some starting new wildfires.

Investigators have reason to believe that the fires that began in the Great Smokey Mountain forest and burned down to Gatlinburg are not wildfires but are “human made.” 

Across the border in Asheville, North Carolina, a man is  being accused of setting two of the fires in that state.  The man, if convicted of these crimes, could spend 20 years in federal prison.

On November 22, at the second wildfire; investigators found a box of matches next to the remains of a cardboard box.

More than 200 firefighters were out battling flames in Tennesee on Wednesday, November 30.  Accoring to NPR, more than 15 separate fires are known to be burning in various southeastern states.

According to CNN, Gatlinburg mayor Mike Werner said “[the] town will pull together and recover that damage done to the city.”

Here at Indian River, sophomore Nini Dinh reacted saying, “To see all those homes and families struggling to find one another must be hard, I don’t know what I’d do if I was in that situation, and I’ll pray for the families as well.”