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.


No comments: