Tennessee wildfire: What we know Thursday


The death toll from the wildfire in Tennessee rose to seven on Wednesday as officials thanked “the big guy” for rains that tamped down the flames, but admitted that only a small fraction of the fire was under control.

The wildfire, which is located mainly in Sevier County, is believed to be the largest one the state has seen in more than 100 years. Officials say they believe the fire was 'human-caused.'

As of Thursday morning, the fire has damaged or destroyed more than 700 buildings. Three hundred of those are in the city limits of the resort town of Gatlinburg. Sevier County Mayor Larry Waters thanked “the big guy up above” for the rain Wednesday, which gave firefighters some relief.

Here’s what we know about the fire Thursday morning:

• Three bodies were recovered Wednesday, bringing the death toll to seven so far. Several people are reported missing. The three bodies were found together.

• According to officials, the fire is about 10 percent contained as of Wednesday night. 

• As of Wednesday, the fire had burned nearly 15,700 acres. 

• Dolly Parton, a native of Sevier County, has pledged to pay $1,000 a month to families who have  lost their home in the fire. Called the “My People Fund,” the money will help families "until they get back up on their feet,” Parton said in a video message.

• The evacuation of Pigeon Forge has been lifted but is still in effect for Gatlinburg, according to Wildfiretoday.com.

• There has been no arrests in connection with the fire officials say was “human-caused.”

• The famous Alamo Steak House in Gatlinburg was one of the buildings destroyed by the fire. Click here to see what else has been burned.  

From Wednesday:

• The original fire that sparked the dozen other blazes that have moved across southern Tennessee was "human-caused," National Park Service spokeswoman Dana Soehn said.

 • On Monday afternoon, wind gusts of up to 87 mph hit the area, spreading the fire before the region saw ¾ to 1 inch of rain overnight Tuesday.

 • Gatlinburg Fire Chief Greg Miller has confirmed that the at least three of the four victims killed in the blaze died in separate incidents.

 • Cabins on the grounds of the Dollywood theme park have burned, according to authorities, but the park has not been damaged.

 • At least 30 buildings have burned in Gatlinburg.

 • 50-60 firetrucks and heavy equipment have been sent to the fire zones.

 • Between 100 and 125 members of the National Guard have been deployed.

 • More than 200 firefighters from around the state are in the area fighting the fire.

 • On Tuesday, a fire was reported near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park headquarters.

 Sources: The Knoxville Sentinel; The Associated Press; Wildfiretoday.com; USA Today; The Washington Post 


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Nation & World

SEE IT: Roofers stand for national anthem in viral photo
SEE IT: Roofers stand for national anthem in viral photo

A photo of three Maine roofers standing for the national anthem is going viral. According to WKRG, Michelle Lyons Cossar posted the photo to Facebook on Saturday after she spotted the roofers, who were standing on top of a house, acknowledging the anthem before a football game between Old Town and Waterville high schools. "Standing for...
Florida man hires pilot to fly 'Boycott Jags, NFL' banner over stadium amid anthem protests
Florida man hires pilot to fly 'Boycott Jags, NFL' banner over stadium amid anthem protests

A man from Green Cove Springs, Florida, took his issues with the Jacksonville Jaguars and the NFL to the sky Sunday. At 1,000 feet, you could read the statement on the plane-towed banner saying, “Be American. Boycott the Jags and the NFL.” Terry Smiley had the message printed on a banner that was flown above EverBank Field before the...
Taliban hostage rescued after 5 years in captivity didn't believe Trump was president
Taliban hostage rescued after 5 years in captivity didn't believe Trump was president

A Canadian man who had been held in Afghanistan for five years by Taliban-tied kidnappers revealed that he thought his kidnapper was joking when he said Donald Trump was president of the United States. Joshua Boyle said one of his captors told him Trump was president just before he was forced to film a “proof-of-life” video, according...
Reward offered in search for man suspected of raping, killing baby
Reward offered in search for man suspected of raping, killing baby

Police in eastern Ohio are looking for a man suspected of raping and killing a baby girl. According to WFMJ, the Northern Ohio Violent Fugitive Task Force is offering a reward of up to $5,000 for information that leads to the arrest of Joshua Gurto. Gurto is accused of raping and killing a 13-month-old girl in Ashtabula County. He is wanted...
WATCH: Kate Middleton dances with Paddington Bear despite battling morning sickness
WATCH: Kate Middleton dances with Paddington Bear despite battling morning sickness

Dancing Queen? Duchess Catherine took a spin with adorably cuddly Paddington Bear on Monday during a surprise appearance with her husband, Prince William, in London, Us Weekly reports.  The duchess, who announced her third pregnancy in September, surprised Londoners at the Paddington train station with the giant dancing bear...
More Stories