Crews work to contain wildfire near Smoky Mountains

Posted at 9:12 AM, Apr 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-01 12:05:00-04

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (WTVF/AP) — Officials say firefighters from across Tennessee are working to contain a wildfire near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park that spread to nearly 4,000 acres despite rain from storms that passed through the area on Wednesday.

The blaze began in the Wears Valley community of Sevier County Wednesday morning as a brush fire.

Sevier County Mayor Larry Waters said Thursday morning that it had spread to more than 3,700 acres and had impacted more than 100 structures. Around 11,000 homes in the area had been evacuated.

The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency said the Wears Valley wildfire is 30% contained as of Friday morning. However crews are battling multiple fires at once. Another 800-acre fire in the nearby Seymour community is not contained as of Friday morning.

Three people were injured, but Waters said there have been no reports of fatalities or missing people. He said a coordinated response from emergency personnel, firefighters, forestry officials and others helped mitigate damage. Many firefighters have worked 12-hour shifts to combat the fires which are burning in many areas previously damaged in the deadly 2016 wildfires.

The Red Cross reported it provided shelter to 120 people at the Pigeon Forge Community Center. The organization has assisted 500 people at the center since Wednesday night.

TEMA has created a Sevier County wildfire recovery website for more information on how to help the community.