At least 7 dead, dozens hurt in raging Tennessee wildfires

Photo: WATE

GATLINBURG, Tenn. (WATE) – Wildfires continue to roar across the southeast, leaving a trail of devastation and worry on the minds of those who are still searching for missing loved ones.

Officials in Sevier County say the death toll has now reached seven in the fires in Gatlinburg and the county. The remains have not yet been positively identified nor families notified. They were found in the Campbell Lead Road area and were all adults. A total of 53 people are now reported injured.

Mayor Larry Waters said Wednesday three more people have been rescued – two in an elevator at the Westgate resort and one from a private home on Ski Mountain – and the number of buildings destroyed or damaged just in the county had risen to at least 400. Another 300 or so have been damaged or destroyed in Gatlinburg.

A 6 p.m to 6 a.m. curfew continues in Gatlinburg Wednesday night.

State officials say the fire is 10 percent contained and has burned 15,653 acres. The fire is currently burning in brush, hardwood slash and leaf litter. It is believed to have been human caused.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has established a hotline to coordinate reports of missing persons in the areas affected by the recent wildfires in East Tennessee. Those wishing to report missing individuals believed to be in the affected areas of Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and Wears Valley may contact 1-800-TBI-FIND.

Gov. Bill Haslam said this is the largest fire in 100 years in Tennessee.

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