GATLINBURG, Tenn. -- Several people have lost their lives and dozens other were injured following wildfires in East Tennessee.
According to the Knoxville News Sentinel, 7 people have been killed in the fires. Approximately 53 had to be treated at nearby hospitals.
The Tennessee State Department of Commerce and Insurance has established a Community Resource Center in Pigeon Forge, that will officially open on Thursday, December 1.
“The damage created by the wildfires was heartbreaking,” said TDCI Commissioner Julie Mix McPeak. “In an effort to help consumers begin rebuilding and restoring their lives, we worked with Pigeon Forge officials to open the Community Resource Center. We’re thankful for all our local partners who have shown such inspiring courage this week in the face of tragedy.”
In addition, two separate teams- Tennessee Task Force One and the Mid-South American Red Cross- have been launched from the Mid-South to help those in need.
More than 700 buildings that have been damaged or destroyed because of the fire: more than 300 were in the city and 400 in the county.
According to Fire Chief Greg Miller, 15,700 acres of the Smokey Mountains have been damaged by the fire. The majority of the fires inside the city of Gatlinburg have been contained.
Gatlinburg Mayor Mike Werner said officials will begin thinking about when residents will be allowed to go back home starting on Thursday.
The local school system will be providing counselors to students and staff.
According to Mayer Waters, no additional bodies have been found leaving the total at 7. They have been making progress in the search and clean up efforts.
They also announced that they will have a GIS map on Chimney Tops website later today that will detail what properties were damaged in the area.
The number of people who have been injured and are being treated has increased to 74.
Fire Cheif Miller added that the area has been divided into four zones and the progress in each of them are 80 percent in zone one, 90 percent in zone two and that zone three and four are being searched now and will be completed by nightfall. They did announce that due to the amount of calls for animals that they have begun searching for those animals and will have a system in place with the Sevier County Humane Society.
The total acreage burned increased to 17,108 with 285 first responders battling the fires.
Wiley, Oakley, North Chalet Village, Beach Branch and Walker Trail are areas that still have no access due to downed power lines and trees.
They did want remind everyone that this is a marathon and not a sprint.