Devastating fires in Gatlinburg, Tennessee and the surrounding areas have completely engulfed the mountain communities in a massive wildfire. The cause of the fires is believed to be arson, but the fires are spreading so rapidly because of unfortunate weather conditions.
“Everything was like a perfect storm,” Cassius Cash, superintendent of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, told local CNN affiliate WATE. The fires started because of an awful drought, then spread quickly because of the heavy wind, which caused some trees and power lines to go down, which in turn caused more fires. It’s a very awful situation for the residents and businesses in the area.
Via The Washington Post:
The hottest and driest autumn on record is fueling what the mayor of Gatlinburg, Tenn., is calling “a fire for the history books.” Hundreds of structures have been burned to the ground,14,000 residents were forced to flee for their lives, and though there were no reports of fatalities on Tuesday morning, at least four people are being treated for burns, three of which were classified as “severe.”
The fires sprung up so fast and spread so quickly that officials hadn’t been able to figure out how much ground the blazes actually covered on Tuesday morning.
How did this happen? In the immediate — strong winds, downed trees and live power lines sparking across dry autumn leaves. In the long-term — few tropical storms, months of drought and cold fronts that time and time again brought more wind than rain. Wildfires have been charring the landscape in the Great Smoky Mountains for months, and it was only a matter of time before they reached a community like Gatlinburg.