Update on the Sevier County Wildfires
As of Noon Central Time on Dec. 5, 2016
Officials have confirmed a total of 14 fatalities due to the fires. Another 134 people were injured.
Gatlinburg Mayor Mike Werner, who lost his home and business, expressed the heart and resilience of the community during the press conference, stating, “If you want to help Gatlinburg, come back and visit us. We’re gonna be back…we’re gonna be better than ever.”
Gatlinburg has lifted its requirement to boil water in the eastern part of the area (the post office on Highway 321 to the eastern city limits), which is currently open to the public.
The Spur Parkway has opened from Pigeon Forge to the Gatlinburg Welcome Center. There will be no access to Wiley Oakley Drive from the Spur, though. Crews said Wiley Oakley Drive and Greystone Heights Road continue to remain inaccessible due to critical utility work, and crews are working to reopen them as soon as possible.
Gatlinburg anticipates its most vibrant tourism area, the downtown Parkway and River Road, will be open to the public on Wednesday, Dec. 7.
Ober Gatlinburg announced it is re-opening on Wednesday, Dec. 7.
Pigeon Forge businesses were not damaged during this week’s fires, and businesses are operating as usual. The city’s Winterfest festival continues, including several Christmas shows at various theaters. Dollywood theme park is open from 2 to 9p.m. Tuesday through Friday and from 11a.m. to 9p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Restaurants and lodging properties are operating on normal schedules.
Pigeon Forge tourism officials are reinforcing that the city’s many attractions, theatres, restaurants and lodging properties are operating as usual after recent wildfires in the area.
For more information visit: http://www.mypigeonforge.com/planning/travel-advisory/
“Many of our city’s 6,000 residents, as well as those of our friends and family in Gatlinburg, are dependent on the tourism industry for jobs to care for themselves and their families,” said Leon Downey, Pigeon Forge executive director of tourism. “As our communities move forward, our industry has an obligation to our residents and employees to encourage visitation to the area and sustain our businesses.”
Dolly Parton will be hosting a fundraising telethon event in Nashville on Tuesday, Dec. 13. One hundred percent of the proceeds raised will go to wildfire victims.
Sevierville is open for business, including Wilderness of the Smokies and the Tanger Outlets.
The Townsend entrance to Cades Cove, a popular Smoky Mountain scenic drive is open.
Visitor Site Information
Gatlinburg and Sevier County leaders on Friday launched a computerized map to alert property owners of the status of structures affected by the fire. The map is posted to http://www.seviercountytn.org/ and on the Chimney Top 2 Fire page on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ChimneyTops2Fire/.
Disaster Relief Information
Anyone interested in volunteering in the recovery effort is encouraged to visit http://www.volunteertn.org/.
The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) and Tennessee Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (TN VOAD) have set up a call center to provide information for those who would like to donate goods and volunteer to help survivors. For a list of the most-needed items, please visit http://mypf.social/pfdonationneeds. The call center is staffed from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily; the phone number is 866-586-4483.
To support displaced residents and visitors, Pigeon Forge established a distribution center to disperse donated food and supplies. Located just off the Parkway in Pigeon Forge in the former Boyds Bear building at 149 Cates Lane, the facility is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m. Representatives from the Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance and major private insurance companies are also on site.
Any Sevier County resident or visitor who was affected by the wildfires is encouraged to visit the distribution center.
Available supplies include bottled water, adult- and children’s-sized apparel, footwear, blankets, food, beverages, over-the-counter medications, personal hygiene products, diapers, flashlights, baby formula and more.
The distribution center will remain open until demand decreases or inventory is depleted. Donation collection efforts that are already under way will be received at the distribution center. City officials kindly request that no new donation collection efforts begin until the current supply is reduced and additional storage space becomes available.
The Gatlinburg Relief Fund has been established at SmartBank. Donations can be dropped off at any location or mailed to:
Gatlinburg Relief Fund
P.O. Box 1910
Pigeon Forge, TN 37868
Call 865-453-2650 for more information.
City of Pigeon Forge Fire Fund. Donations can be made at any Citizens National Bank branch or mailed to:
Citizens National Bank
200 Forks of the River Parkway
Sevierville, TN 37862
Tennessee State Bank has opened an account for Benefit of Dollywood Foundation Fire Victims. Those wishing to contribute may do so at any branch location. Those who already have a Tennessee State Bank account may call and make a phone transfer donation. All founds go directly to the Dollywood Foundation’s My People Fund.
Donations are being accepted at the Pigeon Forge Fire Hall Station 1 in Pigeon Forge (865-429-7381).
The Red Cross is not looking for untrained volunteers, but is accepting monetary donations. People can make a $10 donation by texting “REDCROSS” to 90999.
Ways to aid in disaster relief can be found by visiting redcross.org/donate/donation. To donate by check or to this specific cause, complete this donation form by printing and mailing to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37839, Boone, IA 50037-0839.
The Red Cross also asks that please not send in-kind donations at this time, due to the logistics involved in sorting, storing and distributing these donations.
The American Red Cross also offers a website safeandwell.communityos.org for communication between those affected by disasters.
To volunteer with the American Red Cross, particularly after the evacuation and during the recovery, visit redcross.org/volunteer/become-a-volunteer.