Thursday, December 1, 2016

11 Deaths Confirmed as Wildfires Devastate Tennessee

Four more people have died in the ferocious wildfire that erupted across Tennessee's Great Smoky Mountains National Park, authorities said Thursday, raising the death toll to 11 as officials continue to assess the damage.

Sevier County Mayor Larry Waters confirmed three deaths at a news conference Thursday afternoon. The state Emergency Management Agency confirmed the fourth Thursday night.

Waters did offer some good news: Search crews have found "quite a few" of the 70 or so people who were reported missing, he said at a news conference.

Seventy-four people have been treated for injuries, and some remain in hospitals, officials said. The state Emergency Management Agency said almost 8,500 customers remained without power Thursday in Sevier County.

Drenching rain on Wednesday helped firefighters beat back the massive blaze, which still burned more than 17,000 acres and was about 10 percent contained, according to the Southern Area Incident Management Team, which assumed command of the fire.

"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," the team said.

Officials said crews were making significant progress in the search and clearing operations, which have been slowed by mud and rockslides caused by the wet weather.

Full Report