GATLINBURG (News Sentinel) - The death toll stands at 10 in the historic wildfire that tore through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and this resort town earlier in the week, with no identities of the dead confirmed by officials so far and the search still on for others, authorities said Thursday.
Authorities haven't said whether they'll be forced to rely on dental records to identify the remains found.
Gatlinburg Police Chief Randy Brackins fought back tears at a morning news conference as he described the crawling pace of the process.
Read more from our newspartners at the Knoxville News Sentinel.
PREVIOUS STORY: (NBC News) - Officials were continuing to assess the damage Thursday from a ferocious wildfire that erupted across Tennessee's Great Smoky Mountains National Park more than a week ago, killing at least seven people and gutting over 700 structures.
Drenching rain on Wednesday helped firefighters beat back the massive blaze, which still burned more than 15,650 acres and was about 10 percent contained, according to the Southern Area Incident Management Team, which assumed command of the fire.
"The rain we received may have slowed this fire for a day or two at a critical time, but the threat from this fire is still there," the team said.
While large swaths of the national park were ravaged, the flames also reached the neighboring Appalachian tourist meccas of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge.
Sevier County Mayor Larry Waters confirmed Wednesday afternoon that three more people were dead. No identities were released because the victims' families hadn't been notified.
"We certainly want to pray for those families, the folks involved in the fatalities," Waters said at a news conference. "We continue to try to identity them. We haven't been able to yet."
A firefighter suffered minor injuries, and 53 people have been treated at LaConte Medical Center, Waters said. He didn't know the conditions of the patients, but said "many of those have been released."
Incident commanders said the blazes started with the human-caused Chimney 2 Fire, which was reported in the park Nov. 23. By Monday, the region's prolonged drought and extreme winds were causing the fire to spit out embers that quickly ignited numerous new fires, they said.
Fire commanders said more than 700 structures in Sevier County have been damaged or destroyed — about 300 of them in Gatlinburg — and as many as 14,000 people were forced to evacuate their homes, authorities said.
"This is a once-in-a-lifetime event," Waters said. "This was a perfect storm."
An unknown number of people remain missing, although families have been asking for help to find their loved ones.
President Barack Obama also spoke with Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and committed to providing any assistance to help fight the fire. The White House said FEMA approved a grant earlier this week to mobilize resources.
Major threatened areas include Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, the latter which is home to Dollywood, the theme park named for country music superstar Dolly Parton.
The attraction itself wasn't damaged, a spokesman said, but the fire came perilously close.
Parton, a native of Sevier County, released a video Wednesday night pledging to pay $1,000 a month to families who lost their homes in the wildfire, "until they get back up on their feet."
She said her companies — which include the DreamMore resort, where dozens of families were evacuated — "want to provide a hand up to all those families that have lost everything in the fires and to recover."