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November 29, 2016

TEMA Update on Sevier County Wildfires, 11-29-16, 5 p.m., Central


The following is TEMA’s evening update on the Sevier County wildfires. This will be the final update tonight. We will issue another Flash Report tomorrow morning with any new information from the overnight. For news media questions about the local response and situation, please contact the following PIOs in Sevier County: Perrin Anderson, perrin@seviercountytn.gov, Marci Claude, marci@gatlinburg.com, 865-964-1282, or Dana Soehn, Dana_Soehn@nps.gov, 865-436-1207.


HIGHLIGHTS
Sevier County first responders, firefighters, emergency medical services, emergency management, and local officials have been intensely involved in the wildfire fighting effort in the County for almost 24 hours.


Firefighting has been the sole focus on-the-ground in Sevier County and local officials have not had any chance to set up processes for receiving donations or engaging volunteers. Please note the following information:

• Cash donations can be made through the American Red Cross at redcross.org/donate, or by calling call 1-800-RED CROSS, or text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a donation.

• New Hope Church of God at 2450 Winfield Dunn Parkway in Sevierville is collecting donations also. Contact number is 865-932-4673, staffed 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Eastern.

• Gatlinburg officials are asking volunteers not to self-deploy to Sevier County to assist. Local and state officials are currently working on a process to manage volunteers and will provide more information when it is available.

• Gatlinburg is blocked off to the public and local officials are not providing access into the city because it is still a dangerous situation. Local officials will announce when they are ready to allow residents back into Gatlinburg.

• Gatlinburg officials also have not had a chance to do a complete and through assessment of damage in Sevier County. So it is unknown at this time of an exact number of structures damaged or destroyed in Sevier County by the wildfire.


Sevier County residents can use the American Red Cross’s Safe and Well website, https://safeandwell.communityos.org/cms/index.php, to indicate their status so family members and friends know they are OK.


Residents can also use Facebook’s Safety Check to indicate their status: https://www.facebook.com/about/safetycheck/


There are many fires still burning in Sevier County and it continues to be a dangerous situation in the county.


City of Gatlinburg officials have instituted a curfew to be in place from 6 p.m., to 6 a.m., Eastern, tonight.


CURRENT SITUATION
Local officials in Pigeon Forge has 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.


About the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency: TEMA’s mission is to coordinate preparedness, response and recovery from man-made, natural and technological hazards in a professional and efficient manner in concert with our stakeholders. Follow TEMA on Facebook, TNDisasterInfo, on Twitter, @T_E_M_A, and at www.tnema.org.