TEMA UPDATE: Sevier Co. wildfire death toll rises to 13 - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

TEMA UPDATE: Sevier Co. wildfire death toll rises to 13

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UPDATE: During a press conference Friday morning, officials revealed that 13 people have died as a result of wildfires that swept through the Sevier County and Gatlinburg area.

Officials say that 12 people died as a direct result of the fires, while the 13th victim died of a heart attack from smoke inhalation while running from the flames.

READ MORE | 13 deaths tied to Sevier County wildfire; 1,000 structures affected


PREVIOUS STORY: The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency says the number of people who died from the Sevier County fires is now at 11. 

TEMA said 4,871 people remain without power in Sevier County. 

A total of 266 people are staying in the two Red Cross shelters in Sevier County - 16 at the Pigeon Forge Community Center and 250 at Rocky Top Sports World.

READ MORE | TEMA: Number of dead from Sevier County fires rises to 11 


PREVIOUS STORY: Rain this morning and today provided some relief in wildfire outbreaks in Sevier County. Gatlinburg reports all wildfires out, though some are still smoldering. Gatlinburg remains under a mandatory evacuation order and a curfew will be in place tonight from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m., Eastern. Pigeon Forge reported no new outbreaks today. 

The total size of the wildfire impact, on acreage and on structures, in Sevier County is still being assessed. 

In Sevier County, 8,476 people remain without power.

A temporary flight restriction remains in place to prevent aircraft from complicating the response.

FATALITIES & INJURIES

The Tennessee Department of Health (TDOH) has confirmed 7 fatalities in Sevier County from the wildfires.  There is no further information available on these fatalities at this time. TDOH also reports up to 45 injuries from the Sevier County wildfires.

SHELTERS

There are two Red Cross shelters remain open in Sevier County with 196 total occupants: 

  • Pigeon Forge Community Center (4)
  • Rocky Top Sports World (192)

DONATION & VOLUNTEER CALL CENTER

The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) and Tennessee Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (TN VOAD) have setup a call center for information about donating goods and volunteering to help survivors of the Sevier County wildfires.

The call center number is 866-586-4483 and is staffed from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., every day of the week.


PREVIOUS UPDATE: Local officials in Pigeon Forge have lifted the mandatory evacuation order. Gatlinburg still remains under a mandatory evacuation order.

Pigeon Forge officials estimate 500 people were evacuated on Monday night. Approximately 125 people remain displaced and in local shelters in Pigeon Forge.

State agencies and local officials evacuated likely thousands residents and visitors from Sevier County last night due to devastating wildfires in-and-around the cities of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. It is very likely 14,000+ residents and visitors evacuated from Gatlinburg alone.

The Chimney Top Fire, which began in the Great Smoky Mountains, spread very rapidly yesterday evening as high winds pushed flames onto private property.

A temporary flight restriction is in place to prevent aircraft from complicating the response.

Numerous roads remain closed and blocked by fallen trees and power lines.  State Hwy. 441 heading into Gatlinburg is closed, except for emergency traffic.  State Hwy. 441 leaving Gatlinburg is open to evacuating traffic.

Additionally, the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency has liaison officers in Sevier County and has activated the East Tennessee Regional Coordination Center to facilitate resource requests and mission assignments.

FATALITIES & INJURIES

Sevier County officials report 14 injuries and three fatalities. There is no other information available at this time.

Three persons with severe burns were transferred form University of Tennessee’s Knoxville (UTK) hospital to Vanderbilt Medical Center in Nashville overnight. A fourth with burns to their face continues to be evaluated at UTK. Currently, there are no reports of fatalities.

POWER OUTAGES

Sevier County reports 10,693 people without power. 

SHELTERS

There are three Red Cross shelters open in Sevier County, as follows: 

  • LeConte Center at Pigeon Forge
  • Pigeon Forge Community Center
  • Rocky Top Sports World

At peak, an estimated 1,300 people occupied six Red Cross or independently-operated shelters. The latest estimate is 1,100 occupants in the three shelters above.

RESPONSE ACTIVITIES

TEMA opened the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) in Nashville last night coordinating with Emergency Services Coordinators and representatives with the Tennessee departments of Commerce and Insurance (State Fire Marshal), General Services, Health, Human Services and Transportation, and American Red Cross, Army National Guard, Fire Mutual Aid, Tennessee Division of Forestry, Tennessee Highway Patrol, and Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters. 

This morning, representatives from the Tennessee departments of Economic and Community Development, Labor and Workforce Development, Financial Institutions, Department of Education, Finance and Administration, Agriculture, and the Tennessee Valley Authority will join those organizations already collaborating to ensure coordinated response and effective recovery.

Tennessee Highway Patrol troopers (up to 52 at peak) have conducted door-to-door canvassing to assist with notifications and evacuations.

Tennessee Department of Transportation (32 personnel) crews and trucks have been working continuously overnight to help clear routes of ingress and egress, fire fighters and apparatus from scores of jurisdictions responded with mutual aid.

The Tennessee National Guard is activating 111 soldiers to assist with movement of first responders, light debris removal and well ness checks.  The Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency has 15 personnel also assisting with the searches and wellness checks.

The Tennessee Department of Health is coordinating hospitals and medical services with local partners. 

The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency worked with the Federal Emergency Management Agency this evening to secure a Fire Management Assistance Grant (FMAG) for the Chimney Top Mountain fire, which caused the wildfire outbreak in Sevier County.

WEATHER

A line of strong to marginally severe storms is expected in East Tennessee, tonight and into early Wednesday morning.  Damaging straight-line winds up to 60 mph are the primary threat.  Heavy downpours and lightning will also accompany these storms.


PREVIOUS UPDATE: State agencies and local officials evacuated likely thousands residents and visitors from Sevier County last night due to devastating wildfires in-and-around the cities of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. It is very likely 14,000+ residents and visitors evacuated from Gatlinburg alone.

The Chimney Top Fire, which began in the Great Smoky Mountains, spread very rapidly yesterday evening as high winds pushed flames onto private property.

Even with the rain that is currently falling there, the fires continue to burn and structures remain engulfed with little hope that the rainfall will bring immediate relief. 

A temporary flight restriction is in place to prevent aircraft from complicating the response.

Sevier County Emergency Management Agency personnel have conducted some very preliminary surveys of damaged areas and estimates that hundreds of structures are lost; Westgate Resorts is likely entirely gone (more than 100 buildings), Black Bear Falls has likely lost every single cabin, Ober Gatlinburg was previously reported as destroyed, but Ober and TEMA have said those reports are false. 

Numerous roads remain closed and blocked by fallen trees and power lines.  State Hwy. 441 heading into Gatlinburg is closed, except for emergency traffic.  State Hwy. 441 leaving Gatlinburg is open to evacuating traffic.

Additionally, the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency has liaison officers in Sevier County and has activated the East Tennessee Regional Coordination Center to facilitate resource requests and mission assignments.

Green, McMinn, Sevier County schools are closed today. Cocke County schools are running two hours late.

Injuries and fatalities: Three persons with severe burns were transferred form University of Tennessee’s Knoxville (UTK) hospital to Vanderbilt Medical Center in Nashville overnight.  A fourth with burns to their face continues to be evaluated at UTK. Currently, there are no reports of fatalities.

Power outages: Sevier County reports 11,595 people without power. 

Shelters: At a peak, an estimated 1,300 people occupied six Red Cross or independently-operated shelters. The latest estimate is 1,100 people in four shelters. 

Response Activites: TEMA opened the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) in Nashville last night coordinating with Emergency Services Coordinators and representatives with the Tennessee departments of Commerce and Insurance (State Fire Marshal), General Services, Health, Human Services and Transportation, and American Red Cross, Army National Guard, Fire Mutual Aid, Tennessee Division of Forestry, Tennessee Highway Patrol, and Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters. 

 This morning, representatives from the Tennessee departments of Economic and Community Development, Labor and Workforce Development, Financial Institutions, Department of Education, Finance and Administration, Agriculture, and the Tennessee Valley Authority will join those organizations already collaborating to ensure coordinated response and effective recovery.

Tennessee Highway Patrol troopers (up to 52 at peak) have conducted door-to-door canvassing to assist with notifications and evacuations.

Tennessee Department of Transportation (32 personnel) crews and trucks have been working continuously overnight to help clear routes of ingress and egress, fire fighters and apparatus from scores of jurisdictions responded with mutual aid.

The Tennessee National Guard is activating 100 soldiers to assist with movement of first responders, light debris removal and well ness checks. 

The Tennessee Department of Health is coordinating hospitals and medical services with local partners. 

The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency worked with the Federal Emergency Management Agency this evening to secure a Fire Management Assistance Grant (FMAG) for the Chimney Top Mountain fire, which caused the wildfire outbreak in Sevier County.

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