The wildfires, which have already engulfed two tourist towns close to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, began some time on or beforeMonday. According to Great Smoky Mountains National Park Superintendent, Cassius Cash, the fires were likely to have been caused by human actions.
According to other Tennessee state officials, the fires have caused the destruction or damaging of at least seven hundred homes and buildings. Seven people have died as a result of the wildfires. Over 53 people have also been treated for injuries caused by the wildfires.
Most of the damage has been in the city of Gatlinburg, Tennessee. A wall of fire was described as descending from the mountains onto Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge at a surprising speed. Many citizens of the two towns were forced to flee their homes without much time to prepare for evacuation. The fires continued to spread through Sevier County and were fed by brush according to state officials.
According to the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, the only thing that was able to slow the wildfires was rain. All of the wildfires were put out by late Wednesday, although some ash still smoldered. The city of Gatlinburg is still under an emergency evacuation order and there was an overnight curfew put in place. There are search and rescue efforts under way currentlyby state entities and the Red Cross but many areas are still unreachable and the number of missing individuals has not been determined.