Gatlinburg, Tennessee has been a wonderful tourist destination for years. It’s home to the breathtaking scenery of the Great Smoky Mountains, cozy cabins, and exciting attractions in nearby Pidgeon Forge. Every year, around 11 million people visit Gatlinburg. But tourism aside, Gatlinburg is a permanent home to many people. This week, they are facing the unimaginable as vicious wildfires tear through their town.
What Is A Wildfire?
Like a house fire, wildfires begin in one place, but rapidly spread. Wildfires are started by lightning strikes, arson, or just plain human carelessness, like campers forgetting to put out a fire. They are most likely to occur in heavily wooded areas, and often occur during dry conditions or droughts. For the past few months, rainfall has been 10-15 inches below the normal amount in southern states like Tennessee, the Carolinas, and Georgia, making the area an unfortunate target for fires. Even in Florida, dry weather has some worried about the threat of wildfires.
Typically, rainfall is welcome during a wildfire, but in Gatlinburg, it is actually causing more damages. Strong winds accompanied the rain, which only spread the flames and smoke farther across the area. The winds also knocked over power lines, sparking new fires.
Hope for Gatlinburg
So far, 13 people have been killed by the fires, and hundreds more have nothing to return to. Many buildings, including an iconic spa and resort, are completely destroyed. Thankfully, many people evacuated in time, with some traveling by foot through the fire-ravaged town. Tennessee has issued a state of emergency, and hundreds of people are working to combat the flames, with support pouring in from across the country. The mayor of Gatlinburg is sure that the beloved town will rebuild and thrive, but for now, the images coming out of Gatlinburg are frightening and heartbreaking. We hope that the town and its citizens stay strong and safe!
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