UPDATE: Gatlinburg fire chief: 'The worst is definitely over'
Wildfires have burned multiple businesses and vehicles like these along Cherokee Orchard Road in Gatlinburg. (Photo: Michael Patrick/News Sentinel)
Residents in the Mynatt Park Neighborhood in Gatlinburg are being asked to voluntarily evacuate due to the threat of wildfire nearby in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Nov. 28, 2016. (Photo: Courtesy Nikki Arwood Cochran)
GATLINGURG (News Sentinel) - UPDATE: More than 150 homes and businesses lay in smoking ruins Tuesday after wildfire flames whipped by high-speed winds raged overnight through town and displaced more than 14,000 residents, officials estimated.
"This is a fire for the history books," Gatlinburg Fire Chief Greg Miller said at a morning news conference. "The likes of this has never been seen here. But the worst is definitely over with."
More than 200 firefighters from across the state remain on the way to help douse the wildfires, and the Tennessee Army National Guard plans to dump water onto the flames from a helicopter, with at least three Blackhawk helicopters standing by.
About 100-125 Guardsmen are on the ground in Sevier County with more on the way, Capt. Chris Poulopoulos said.
"We've got guys still volunteering to come," he said. "Visibility was too low to fly this morning, but we should be flying soon."
Miller said about 14 buildings remained ablaze in the city Tuesday morning, most of them smoldering shells in various stages of collapse. Firefighters headed from door to door to make sure no victims had been overlooked.
ire crews have taken about 12 patients for treatment of fire-related injuries, Miller said. The extent of those injuries wasn't available.
More than 2,000 people have been taken to emergency shelters so far.
"We have no reports of missing persons," Miller said.
7:30 a.m. Tuesday UPDATE: A Sevier County fire has destroyed 75-100 homes Cobbly Nob area of Gatlinburg.
There are no reports of fatalities or major injuries as of 7:30 a.m. Monday.
About 1,300 people are in shelters throughout Sevier County.
The Great Smoky Mountain National Park have closed all facilities in the park on Tuesday due to extensive fire activity and downed trees. GSMNP headquarters do not have power or phone services.
5 a.m. Tuesday UPDATE: Authorities rescued 29 backcountry hikers from wildfires in Sevier County, according to Great Smoky Mountains National Park Superintendent Cassius Cash.
Cash said there were not any major injuries or fatalities as of 5 a.m. Tuesday. There is one report of an evacuee suffering a burn injury.
"I've been in federal service for 25 years, and I've fought fires on the West Coast and the East Coast and been with the Forest Service as well," Cash said. "Nothing that we've experienced in the 24 hours has prepared for what we've experienced here in the last 24 hours. (It's) been just unbelievable what we've experienced here."
Cash called the wildfires "unprecedented."
Cash said Gatlinburg fire officials said winds reached up to 80 mph. Winds sustained at 30-40 mph about 10-12 hours. The winds coupled with the 500-acre wildfire in Gatlinburg, according to Cash.
12 AM UPDATE: There are currently 30 structures on fire in Gatlinburg as residents and guests evacuate the city.
The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency says 30 structures are on fire, including a 16-story hotel on Regan Drive and the Driftwood Apartments in Gatlinburg. The wildfire is also at the edge of the Dollywood property.
Mandatory evacuations are in place for Mynatt Park, Park Vista and Ski Mountain in Gatlinburg. Evacuations have also been ordered for the north end of Pigeon Forge.
There are no reports of fatalities from the fires, according to TEMA. There is one report of an evacuee suffering a burn injury.
There are reports of downed power lines and trees, TEMA said.
The Tennessee National Guard is deploying personnel to Sevier County to help with clearing debris. The Tennessee Highway Patrol and the Tennessee Department of Transportation are assisting with evacuations and traffic control in the area.
Tennessee's Fire Mutual Aid system is coordinating the arrival of 50 to 60 fire apparatuses from fire departments throughout the area, from as far north as Greeneville and as far south as McMinn County, TEMA said.