Flames engulf the Smokies

The Smoky Mountains and Gatlinburg are left to rebuild after a monster fire.

It is being called the Gatlinburg and Smoky Mountain wildfire disaster and it has taken 14 lives that we know of and a whole lot of wildlife.

17,860 acres have been burned in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  Also, the beloved city of Gatlinburg took a hit as well.

When the town of Gatlinburg was evacuated they had to abandon all of the animals in the Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, but thankfully all of the 10,000+ sea creatures were unharmed.  Other structures in Gatlinburg were not as lucky.

Around 14,000 people were evacuated in the Gatlinburg area and Over 1,700 buildings were in ashes or damaged.  Even the Mayor of Gatlinburg himself found out that he lost his home in the fire.

The fires that started in the great Smoky Mountains were carried by almost 90 mph winds and has hurt what has been known to be one of the most beautiful places in America.

People watch as the Mountains are covered in smoke
(photo by WJHL.com)

Senior Drew Weingartner, who is also an eagle scout, told me that Gatlinburg is going to take a great hit in tourism because it is known for its beautiful wildlife.  “Gatlinburg’s vegetation is going to take years to become as prevalent as it once was.”

Drew also said, “I have had countless family trips to Gatlinburg and the Smoky Mountain National Park, so when I heard about these massive fires, I felt like it was destroying some of my fondest memories.”

This fire that started on Chimney Top Mountain, spread down to Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge.  It is being suspected that the fire was man-made but is yet to be determined whether it was intentional or not.

Senior Daniel McSwigan said that he has been there a few times and have seen the remarkable beauty of the place.  “I understand that wildfires occur often, but it is unfortunate that this was probably started by people.”  He also said, “Hopefully the people of Gatlinburg will see this as a chance to let the wildlife regrow and not a chance to start building on the land where the fire took over.”

There have been efforts to help the disaster such as Red Cross and even music star Dolly Parton has started to raise money to help out.  Also, the courageous fire fighters and the recent rainfall has helped immensely with the fires.

Personally, I have visited Gatlinburg on numerous occasions and have loved it.  My family loves to be outdoors and it is devastating to find out that such a beautiful place can be destroyed so quickly.

Gatlinburg covered in smoke
(photo by Fox6Now.com)

Mr.Weinheimer, who has back-packed through the Smoky Mountains said that if someone intentionally started the fire, they should be punished.  “It deeply saddens me to see what has happened.”

“We’re strong, we’re resilient, and we’re going to make it,” said the Mayor of Gatlinburg, Mike Werner.

The beautiful Smoky Mountains and the great city of Gatlinburg took a hit.  I can only hope that they are able to regain all they had lost because of this tragedy.