Update: December 9, 2016. Great Smoky Mountains National Park reopened Friday, December 9, 2016 after wildfires.
Two juveniles were charged with aggravated arson for starting the fire.
In late November, 2016, wildfires were burning in and near Great Smoky Mountains National Park, closing down the park on Monday, Nov. 28, and causing residents in fire-impacted areas to flee from their homes, some driving past walls of fire. According to news reports, 14 people have died and more injured In the fires around Gatlinburg, Tenn., and much of Sevier County, Tenn.
Park officials closed all facilities in the park because of the extensive fire activity and downed trees. Park headquarters is currently without power and phone services. Park officials have announced on Facebook that LeConte Lodge, the backcountry lodging facility at the summit of Mount LeConte, and the Elkmont Campground and Historic Districts sustained no damage from the fire activities in the park on Monday evening. Some Elkmont buildings suffered roof damage from falling trees caused by heavy winds.
The fires in the park and Gatlinburg community have now collectively been estimated to total over 15,000 acres, according to park officials.
Park officials stated on Facebook, “On Nov. 30, the park will turn the fire management operation to the Southern Area Type I Incident Command Team (Dueitt) to manage the ongoing fire activities within the park. This team consists of federal and state interagency team members from across the country who collaboratively manages wildland fire and other incident management activities such as natural disaster relief efforts.”
The Red Cross has created ways for people to donate and help those affected in wildfires that have destroyed homes, hotels and forced thousands of evacuations in Gatlinburg area and Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Learn more at redcross.org/donate. To make a $10 donation by text, text the word REDCROSS to 90999.