Sunday, December 4, 2016

Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Region Seeks Volunteers

Over the last 24 hours the Chimney Tops 2 Fire Facebook page has published information on ways you can volunteer your time to help the victims of the wildfires. Here are two ways you can help:

* Want to help Great Smoky Mountains National Park recover?? Please give them a few days to get back to work, but then give them a call and offer to Volunteer? Call 865-436-1265, or send an email to Adam Monroe at

* Interested in volunteering to help others? Our partners in Pigeon Forge sent us this link:

If you wish to donate money, WBIR has published some detailed information on how you can help fire evacuees - please click here for the most up-to-date information. Knox News also has an updated list of ways to help.

The great news this morning is that it's raining right now, and appears to be an all day event!


Friday, December 2, 2016

Park Requests Information Regarding Chimney Tops 2 Fire

The National Park Service Investigative Branch Services (IBS) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) continue to investigate the origin of the Chimney Tops 2 fire. The cause of the fire near the summit on Chimney Tops appears to be human caused. The park is asking for assistance from the public to gather information.

The park is requesting that every person who hiked, or knew someone who hiked, the Chimney Tops Trail on Wednesday, November 23, to contact the investigative team to respond to a series of questions that will help provide much–needed information. Hikers can contact the investigators through any of the following means: Calling the Tip Line at 1-888-653-0009; sending an email to the Tip Line at; sending a tweet to @SpecialAgentNPS, or filling out an online tip form at

Also: Fire officials are getting reports from lots of folks who are seeing smoke. Officials said they expected smoke within the fire footprint. However, if you see smoke in areas outside the fire perimeter, please call 865-407-0025, or email at, to report any new fires.


Thousands Donate to Smokies’ Fire Relief Effort on #GivingTuesday

In less than 48 hours, thousands of individual donors contributed more than $100,000 to Friends of the Smokies in support of Great Smoky Mountains National Park on #GivingTuesday. One hundred percent of these donations will help meet the greatest needs of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, beginning immediately with emergency relief efforts related to the recent wildfires.

“We are truly humbled by the outpouring of support for our park,” said Jim Hart, President. “Donors came forward in record numbers, from right here in east Tennessee and as far away as Sweden, all looking for ways to help the park they love.”

Friends of the Smokies’ corporate partners answered the call as well. Scripps Networks is donating a total of $100,000 for wildfire relief to four area nonprofits, including Friends of the Smokies. On top of this generous gift, Scripps Networks has pledged to match its employees’ donations to Friends of the Smokies.

Mast General Store, Patagonia, and Travelers Insurance had already agreed to match up to $15,000 in #GivingTuesday gifts, and every dollar of these donations will continue to be used to support the park. #GivingTuesday is a globally-recognized day inspiring people to donate to nonprofit organizations in their communities. Friends of the Smokies has participated in this effort each year since 2013.

“We want people to know that they can still give to Friends of the Smokies. Right now the need is maybe the greatest it has ever been,” said Marketing Director Brent McDaniel.

Donations can be made online on Facebook at, by phone to 865-932-4794 or 828-452-0720, or by mail to Friends of the Smokies, P.O. Box 1660, Kodak, TN 37764.

In additional news, Friends of the Smokies also announced today that AT&T is donating $20,000 to aid communities following the East Tennessee wildfires. The Gatlinburg Chamber of Commerce Fire Relief Fund and Friends of the Smokies will both receive $10,000 each to support aid where needs are the greatest.


Thursday, December 1, 2016

Gatlinburg Fire Summary - Key Websites to Follow

As of 12:00 pm on December 1st, the Chimney Tops 2 Fire has burned 17,108 acres (including roughly 10,000 acres inside the park). Arson is suspected. According to InciWeb, there is 0% containment of the fire. Although Sevier County received significant amounts of moisture yesterday, more will be needed. “We had really good rain, but not enough to make up the deficit. Don’t let this rain give you a false sense of security.” Michael Proud, Incident Meteorologist, warned. Warmer weather, wind and decreased humidity will increase fire activity during the peak of the day. “The fire is not out, it is just knocked down.” Mark Jamieson, Operations Section Chief, stated.

Gatlinburg officials announced today that they anticipate the downtown Parkway business district, along with the River Road area, will open to public on Monday, December 5th.

Road and Trail Closure Status in Great Smoky Mountains National Park:

• Great Smoky Mountains National Park and trails are closed from the Gatlinburg entrance along Highway 441 to Smokemont, near Cherokee, North Carolina. Highway 441, Little River Road, Cherokee Orchard Road, Sugarlands Visitor Center and Clingmans Dome are currently closed. The Cades Cove and Oconoluftee Visitor Centers are now open.

• The following trails and campsites are closed to due fire until further notice: Chimney Tops Trail, Road Prong Trail, Huskey Gap Trail, Sugarland Mountain Trail, Rough Creek Trail, Little River Trail, Cucumber Gap Trail, Jakes Creek Trail, Miry Ridge Trail, Goshen Prong Trail, Old Sugarlands Trail, Bullhead Trail, Rainbow Falls Trail, Alum Cave Trail, Brushy Mountain Trail, Trillium Gap Trail, Baskins Creek Trail, Porters Creek Trail, Grapeyard Ridge Trail, Campsites 21, 23, 24, 26, 27, 30, 31, 32, Mt. Le Conte shelter, and Mt. Collins shelter.

Here are a few key websites to follow:

* The recently launched Chimney Tops 2 Fire Facebook page appears to be the central information hub concerning the wildfire, covering Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and the park itself. They just published an interactive map that allows you to view the footprint of the burn area. If you pan out, you will see that the park has several fires burning all around it. 

* InciWeb, the Federal incident information system, provides details on the current fire situation. They also have a map of the impacted area.

* WBIR has published some detailed information on how you can help fire evacuees - please click here for the most up-to-date information. Knox News also has an updated list of ways to help.

* WBIR has published a list on the status of several businesses and buildings in the Gatlinburg area. They appear to be updating this as more information becomes available.

* Knox News has published a timeline showing how the fire essentially blew up.

* For the latest on road and trail closures and openings in the Great Smoky Mountains, visit this park page, or the park Twitter account.

* For the latest weather conditions and forecasts, please click here.


Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Gatlinburg Fire Update: 7 Fatalities and 700 Structures Lost

Here's the latest Chimney Tops 2 Fire Update as of this evening. This was just posted on the new Chimney Tops 2 Fire Facebook page (see additional updates below).

Incident Summary: The Chimney Tops 2 Fire was reported in Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Gatlinburg, TN on Wednesday, November 23, 2016 at approximately 5:20 p.m. The wildfire began burning in a remote location (Chimney Tops) of the park in steep terrain with vertical cliffs and narrow rocky ridges making access to the wildfire area difficult for firefighting efforts. On Monday, November 27th, continuous exceptional drought conditions and extreme winds caused the wildfire to grow rapidly, causing numerous new wildfire starts from embers carried miles away and downed powerlines in and adjacent to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The wildfire was determined to be human-caused and is currently under investigation.

To date, there are 7 confirmed fatalities and 700 confirmed structures lost (300 in Gatlinburg, 400 in other parts of Sevier County).

The Southern Area Red Team assumed command of the Chimney Tops 2 Fire today, Wednesday, November 30th, 2016 at 8:00 a.m. The Red Team, the Type 3 Grey Incident Management Team from Colorado, and other firefighters and equipment are on site.

Chimney Tops 2 Fire is currently burning in brush, hardwood slash, and leaf litter. Fire crews are working to assess fire damage and coordinate with local resources to provide structure protection.

From our Fire Behavior Analyst, “The area around the Chimney 2 Fire received rainfall today ranging from 1.2 to 1.7" as of 3:30pm. The same area has been experiencing drought that has persisted over the past four months. Knoxville has received only 2.24” of rain over past 100 days, 13.48 is normal for same period. The rainfall received today will only last for 1 to 2 days due to prolong drought. Fire activity will increase until significant rainfall is received over several days. Indices used to predict fire danger were at or approaching all-time highs before the rainfall. These indices will start to move back towards the same level as before the fire over next couple days if no rainfall is received”. This means the rain we received may have slowed this fire for a day or two at a critical time, but the threat from this fire is still there.

Size: 15,653 acres Containment: 10% Start Date: November 23

Incident Resources: 9 crews, 22 engines, 7 helicopters, 4 dozers, 285 total personnel

Weather: Temperatures are expected to decrease as the week progresses, with afternoon highs reaching the 50s and 60s. Relative humidity is predicted to increase; however gusty winds may still contribute to active fire behavior. You can click here to see the latest forecast for the area.

Road and Trail Closure Status: Great Smoky Mountains National Park:

• Great Smoky Mountains National Park and trails are closed from the Gatlinburg entrance along Highway 441 to Smokemont, near Cherokee, North Carolina. Cades Cove and Oconoluftee Visitor Centers of Great Smoky Mountains National Park have re-opened today.

• A mandatory evacuation is still in effect for most of the City of Gatlinburg.

You can click here to view a map of the impacted area.

Updates as of 10:45 pm:

* Total acres burned is now 17,108

* According to latest InciWeb update, officials don't expect any spread over next 12 hours due to rainfall today. "a cold front pushed through the fire area Wednesday producing significant rainfall. Amounts across the area ranged from 2 to 5 inches. Although the rainfall reduced fore behavior, exceptional drought conditions persist across the area. Some roads may be slick due to mud and ash while low lying areas may still contain pools of standing water. High pressure will build back into the region Thursday through Saturday with the next chance of rain arriving Saturday night and Sunday."

* However, over the next 72 hours: "After 3 days of drying, fire behavior should be increasing. Fire spread in the timber litter should be expected. 1-2 ft flame lengths with minimum rates of spread of 1-3 chains per hour."

* Major-major kudos to Dolly Parton!! She just announced tonight that her foundation will donate $1,000 per month for each family who lost their homes in the fire.


Map of Gatlinburg Fire Impact Area

Inciweb, the Federal incident information system, has published a map of the Gatlinburg fire area. You can click here to see an enlarged version of the map. The fire so far has impacted 15,653 acres in the area.


Tuesday, November 29, 2016

LeConte Lodge and Elkmont Undamaged by Fire

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials have announced this evening that LeConte Lodge, the popular backcountry lodging facility at the base of Mount LeConte, and the Elkmont Campground and Historic Districts sustained no damage from the fire activities in the park on Monday evening. Some Elkmont buildings sustained roof damage from falling trees caused by heavy winds, and some roof repairs will be required.

The fires in the park and Gatlinburg community have now collectively been estimated to total over 15,000 acres. Tomorrow, November 30, the park will turn the fire management operation to the Southern Area Type I Incident Command Team (Dueitt) to manage the ongoing fire activities within the park. This team consists of federal and state interagency team members from across the country who collaboratively manages wildland fire and other incident management activities such as natural disaster relief efforts.