Family Moves On One Year After Gatlinburg Wildfires

GATLINBURG, Tenn. - One year after the deadly wildfires in Sevier County, families continue to rebuild while visitors continue to show support.

The wildfires that tore through Gatlinburg and surrounding areas killed 14 people and destroyed more than 2,000 homes and businesses last November.

On Tuesday, the City of Gatlinburg and the county held a memorial ceremony to observe the one year anniversary. The ceremony honored the lives lost and recognized the first responders. 

"Everything happened so fast. One minute you're hearing about a fire, the next minute you hear reports of how fast it was spreading," recalled Pigeon Forge resident Stephen Cogdill.

NewsChannel 5 interviewed Stephen and his wife Lisa the morning after the fire destroyed his parents' home. 

One year later, he told NewsChannel 5 via FaceTime that his parents are still adjusting to the new way of life.

"They get frustrated really easily and you could tell it's just from being thrown out and thrown into an unexpected situation. One minute your life is normal, the next minute you don't have anything, it's all gone," said Stephen. 

However, through the overflowing amount of support from the community and strangers, his parents were able to rebuild a home on the same spot. 

Lisa's son Isaac Ladd, who lives in Nashville, also offered a hand by taking pictures of families who lost their portraits in the fire through Project Heirloom.

Celebrate Tennessee: Free Family Photos Offered To Gatlinburg Fire Victims

"That was very overwhelming just to see what people did. It was a blessing to see the younger people like that who have moved away come back and give to the community," added Lisa.

Lisa said the community is still facing challenges amid the community rebuilding. 

"It's still hard, it's not over with, a lot of people have the tendency to forget because its been a year, there's still people here that are hurting," said Lisa. "When you drive in the community, you still see these foundations, the homes are gone, the trees are gone, you still see people looking
for places to live."

But Lisa stressed that through the generosity of others, the community will continue to stay strong. 

"I always believe that if you trust God he can always make good out of bad, always," she said.

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