Developing News — Fanned by strong winds and the Southeast’s worst drought in nearly a decade, at least 14 wildfires burned in and around Gatlinburg, Tennessee, forcing evacuations from the popular tourist destination and nearby communities.
“If you’re a person of prayer, we could use your prayers,” Gatlinburg Fire Chief Greg Miller said Monday evening as crews battled wind gusts of up to 70 mph (113km/h).
On Monday afternoon, a wildfire from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park spread rapidly into nearby communities. Strong gusts scattered embers across long distances, starting fires that fed off drought-stricken trees.
The winds also knocked down power lines, igniting new fires, according to authorities.
“Everything was like a perfect storm,” said Cassius Cash, superintendent of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, to CNN affiliate WATE.
There were no deaths reported in connection with the fires, according to the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency. But a male evacuee reportedly suffered burn wounds and an accident involving a fire truck may have also caused minor injuries, the agency said.