PIGEON FORGE, Tennessee (Nov. 29, 2016)—Mandatory emergency evacuations have been lifted in Pigeon Forge in East Tennessee following Monday’s (Nov. 28) wildfires. No injuries are reported in Pigeon Forge as officials work toward the completion of a city-wide assessment.
Monday night’s rainfall helped crews battle the blazes. “We were prepared for the rain to come and for receiving no rain at all,” said Pigeon Forge Fire Chief Tony Watson. “Fortunately, the rain came but the other conditions—specifically, the high winds—we experienced on Monday night subsided. We were able to avoid the dramatic spread of wildfires as we entered the second day, bringing much more favorable conditions overall.”
Much-improved weather conditions on Tuesday (Nov. 29) allowed Pigeon Forge Fire Department officials and ground crews to conduct a damage assessment of the area. At this time, approximately 100 firefighters and first responders have completed an assessment of the city and 90 percent of the outlying rural areas. Crews were hampered by downed power lines which still block access to some areas.
More than 100 structures in the county were destroyed along with 15 residential properties in the city.
“As of Tuesday afternoon, we have 40 total units on the ground responding to 10 active spot fires outside of the city,” said Watson.
Local crews and outside resources are continuing efforts to complete the area-wide assessment. Approximately 100 firefighters, including those from Pigeon Forge and 15 additional stations from throughout East Tennessee, are assisting. Tennessee Emergency Management Association officials remain on site in Pigeon Forge to support local officials.
As Pigeon Forge returns to normal for the majority of the city’s 6,000 permanent residents and its visiting guests, “Our thoughts and prayers remain with our neighbors in Gatlinburg who endured greater destruction and loss of life and property,” said Pigeon Forge City Manager Earlene Teaster.
Approximately 125 people remain displaced and in local emergency shelters in Pigeon Forge. City officials estimate that 500 people were evacuated on Monday night. The American Red Cross provided assistance at The LeConte Center at Pigeon Forge and the Pigeon Forge Community Center, the area’s two largest shelters.
The American Red Cross makes available the website Safeandwell.communityos.org for communication between those affected by disasters. Those wanting to locate a friend or loved one or anyone wanting to check-in as safe may visit this site for updates.
Ways to aid in disaster relief can be found by visiting redcross.org/donate. To donate by check or to this specific cause, complete this donation form by printing and mailing to the American Red Cross, PO Box 37839, Boone, IA 50037-0839. To volunteer with the American Red Cross, particularly after the evacuation and during the wildfire recovery, visit redcross.org/volunteers.