Today, Gatlinburg, Tennessee city officials, residents and visitors commemorate the 1st anniversary of the horrific Chimney Tops 2 fire, that swept through the city last year, becoming the worst Tennessee fire in 100 years. It took just a couple of hours from the first flames rushing from the Smoky Mountain woods into Gatlinburg, for the fire and embers, pushed on by near hurricane force winds, to kill 14 people, damage or destroy nearly 2500 structures and burn more than 17,000 acres of woodlands.
The city of Gatlinburg was closed for eleven days, during one of their prime tourism months, which had a devastating impact on revenue and jobs for thousands of merchants and local workers. This fire also impacted neighboring Pigeon Forge, another major tourism destination, as many visitors thought the fire had “destroyed or closed everything in the area” and either canceled their reservations, or just didn’t travel to the area for much of December.
While the rebuilding continues and will for several years in Gatlinburg, that city and Pigeon Forge are open for business and welcome everyone to visit during the holidays, in one of the most beautiful places in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee.
If you’re in the area today, the official anniversary observance is this afternoon: http://gatlinburgtn.gov/pdf/planning/Wildfire/Wildfires%20Anniversary%20Release.pdf and the city’s yearly Christmas Parade is happening this Friday: https://www.gatlinburg.com/parade/
For WeatherNation – John Van Pelt