10 reported dead in Smoky Mountain Wildfires

Sidney James Mountain Lodge in Gatlinburg, Tennessee (Credit: Ashley Biggens via WATE ReportIt!)
Sidney James Mountain Lodge in Gatlinburg, Tennessee (Credit: Ashley Biggens via WATE ReportIt!)

GATLINBURG (WATE) – Officials in Sevier County say the death toll has now reached 10 in the fires in Gatlinburg and the county. The remains have not yet been positively identified nor families notified. They were found in the Campbell Lead Road area and were all adults. Eighty people have been treated at LeConte Medical Center for fire-related injuries.

Mayor Larry Waters said Wednesday three more people had been rescued – two in an elevator at the Westgate resort and one from a private home on Ski Mountain – and the number of buildings destroyed or damaged just in the county had risen to at least 400. Another 300 or so have been damaged or destroyed in Gatlinburg.

A 6 p.m to 6 a.m. curfew continues in Gatlinburg.

State officials say the fire is 10 percent contained and has burned 15,653 acres. The fire is currently burning in brush, hardwood slash and leaf litter. It is believed to have been human caused.

Officials say they have developed a number of leads that have resulted in missing persons being found. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has established a hotline to coordinate reports of missing persons in the areas affected by the recent wildfires in East Tennessee. Those wishing to report missing individuals believed to be in the affected areas of Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and Wears Valley may contact 1-800-TBI-FIND.

Gov. Bill Haslam said this is the largest fire in 100 years in Tennessee.

All roads will be open in the fire-damaged areas to property owners from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, except Beech Branch Road, Walker Trail Road and Wiley Oakley Road. If all goes well, the access will remain open through Tuesday. There will be one entry station at the East Parkway near Gatlinburg City Hall and can only be reached by Glades Road. There may be areas with active utility workers and first responders and people should be prepared for delays and finding alternate routes.

Structures may not be safe. The city is not implying such by allowing access. Homeowners may bring insurance adjusters with them. The current goal is to reopen downtown Parkway, River Road and Airport Road on Wednesday to the general public.