Wildfires in Tennessee destroy homes, businesses forcing evacuat - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Wildfires in Tennessee destroy homes, businesses forcing evacuation

(Source: WIS) (Source: WIS)
GATLINBURG, TN (WIS) -

Devastating flames burning in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Force and have now forced 14,000 people to evacuate their homes overnight Tuesday.

Hundreds of homes and businesses in the area have been destroyed by a fast-moving wildfire that erupted into an inferno overnight.

“This is a fire for the history books because it isn’t like anything most have ever seen,” said Gatlinburg Fire Chief Greg Miller.

“Several wildfires quickly spread in East Tennessee after being fueled by high winds reaching up to 87 miles per hour and dry brush.

“That is hurricane force,” said Chief Miller. “That is nowhere to be when fighting a fire.”

Flames came dangerously close to a Hilton hotel, temporarily trapping terrified guests. Some evacuees, however, made it out on their own by driving through roads choked by smoke and flames. Others were escorted out on foot by Tennessee state troopers after downed trees blocked roads. Troops from the National Guard also helped evacuees leave the area.

Homes and businesses were lost and lives have been forever altered.

“To see that disappear in what may appear to be in the blink of an eye,” said Smoky Mountains National Park Superintendent Cassius Cash, “it does tug at your heart.”

Copyright 2016 WIS. All rights reserved.

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