Tennessee Wildfires Death Toll Increases

Rain is moving through the area, but crews continue to battle the blaze

UPDATE: Tennessee mayor says authorities have recovered 3 more bodies after wildfires, bringing death toll to 7.


A tourist mecca in Tennessee is now emerging from the smoke, charred and vacant.

During wildfires Monday night, many buildings in Gatlinburg were burned down to their foundations. Hotel fire alarms eerily echoed through the empty streets lined with burned out cars, Tuesday evening.

Three people were killed, a fourth confirmed late Tuesday morning by Sevier County Mayor, Larry Waters. Waters also confirmed that nearly four dozen people have been injured in the blaze.

The wildfires have also destroyed at least 150 buildings, including iconic homes, as well as a resort. Other buildings and attractions remained largely intact, including the Dollywood amusement park in nearby Pigeon Forge.

Gatlinburg, a city that opens up to 11 million visitors annually, is facing a new reality, but Mayor Mike Werner, who lost his home, says his town will pull together and recover.

Rain is beginning to move through the area, but officials say there are still active fires in the area. A National Weather Service meteorologist, Todd Hyslop, says the area received around 1 inch of rain in the overnight hours Tuesday into Wednesday. The system appears to be moving slowly, which increases the chances for more rain, which could assist more than 200 firefighters that are continuing to battle the flames and hotspots. 

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