Tennessee wildfires under control, 300 structures damaged
SEVIERVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Two Tennessee wildfires that have burned more than 3,000 acres near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and damaged more than 300 structures were under control as of Saturday afternoon, officials said.
The Hatcher Mountain wildfire in Wears Valley near Pigeon Forge was approximately 95% contained, while the separate Dupont fire in Seymour was about 60% contained, officials said during a press conference.
Sevier County Mayor Larry Waters thanked emergency responders for their tireless work after dry weather and high winds caused a wildfire to explode from 200-plus acres on Wednesday, The Mountain Press reported.
Waters said that lessons learned from deadly 2016 wildfires were vital in helping to evacuate people from the danger zones. Those fires ravaged the tourism town of Gatlinburg, killing 14 people and damaging or destroying about 2,500 buildings. They also brought changes to emergency notification systems that gave local authorities the ability to immediately send out notifications to people in affected areas.
“I believe the organization this time and the effectiveness of all of our firefighters, especially the effectiveness of the team we have in place that was directing all the activities — I couldn’t ask for more and better organization than we had,” Waters said.