(Warning: Some images and content may be sensitive to some readers. Discretion is advised.)
Two Weeks ago the Smoky Mountain Resort Town of Gatlinburg,Tennessee was almost completely destroyed by wildfire.14 people dead, several hundered businesses and houses are gone, Wildlife creatures perished, and tens of thousands of acres destroyed. So far two juveniles were arrested and are now waiting on Federal and State charges to be filed. But before I show pictures of the damage allow me to give a little backstory.
The fires had been burning all over the South for weeks. Not all of them are from one source. But, they do have some things in common. The Southern States of Alabama,Georgia,Tennessee,North and South Carolina are all under extreme drought conditions still to this day. Dry conditions along with lightning and accidental man made fires that spreaded such as campfires started the wildfires in some parts of the Appalachians. These states imposed burn bans in many counties. One of the worst fires was on South Mountain and Party Rock( Not to be confused with the LMFAO song) in Western North Carolina. The smoke from these wildfires were making air quality unbearable for many. Even in major areas like Atlanta, Charlotte, Greensboro, Nashville, and Birmingham. Smoke could literally be seen from the skylines of these cities. One man was arrested for starting those fires and is awaiting Federal Charges. When asked by police for his motive, the man was remorseless when he said he did it out of boredom.
This is sattelite imagery from November 14th 2016 taken from Sattelites from NASA.
On November 29th A gust of 90-100 mile per hour winds swept through the mountains had spread the flames into the residential, business, and time share properties of Gatlinburg Tennessee. 15,000 people evacuated their houses,cabins and hotel rooms to flee the fires. Gatlinburg and the Smokies are a very popular tourist destination this time of year as Christmas Displays,shows,and the Dollywood Themepark attract tourists. Firefighters from all over Tennessee,NC,GA and all states came to help fight the fires. Sadly 14 people lost their lives in the fires including elderly and children. Hundreds if not thousands were left homeless. Several people were taken to nearby hosptals in Knoxville. Survivors and firefighters literally described it as "Apoctolyptic" "Hell on earth" and "Like the city had been bombed".One of the biggest concerns was the marine life at Ripley's Aquarium of The Smokies. It was later revealed all marine life was safe and the aquairium was intact.
Here are some photos of the fire.
A wedding chapel destroyed
A popular Gatlinburg restraunt destroyed
On the Bright side The Smoky Mountains are reopen and welcoming tourists once again. Dolly Parton is giving homeless families $1000 a month to help victims with expenses. Celebs such as Taylor Swift, Cyndi Lauper, Henry Cho, and others have cooperated with Dolly Parton to do a telethon in the future to raise money for the Smoky Mountain Relief Fund which Dolly Parton is the head of. Millions have already been raised by agencies such as the American Red Cross. The Red Cross has been under a lot of controversy in the area due to the fact that ARC donations are being used to help with other projects and not just the Smoky Mountain Wildfires. Toy drives, clothing drives, food drives, and Christmas Drives have been started throughout Tennessee,Virginia,The Carolinas and Georgia to donate goods to those who need them in the Mountains. Its an area I visited a lot growing up. My Cousin owned a motel in Gatlinburg. For two summers I stayed with him and his family in the Smokies. I am glad to see that people are helping out and the town is getting bac on its feet.