GATLINBURG, Tenn. (WKRN/WATE) – Mandatory evacuations were ordered Monday evening for neighborhoods of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge.
The evacuations come as wildfires in the area continue to grow, reportedly spurred by downed trees falling on power lines.
In Gatlinburg, the neighborhoods evacuated were Mynatt Park, Savage Gardens, East Foothills Road, Turkey Nest Road, Davenport and Ski Mountain areas.
Downtown Gatlinburg was also evacuated. Officials urge people to exit using Highway 321.
Emergency shelters have been set up at the Gatlinburg Community Center and Rocky Top Sports World. Any resident who is in need of transportation can call Gatlinburg police at 1-865-436-5181.
In Pigeon Forge, the following areas are open and ready to receive those who need shelter: LeConte Center, Pigeon Forge Community Center, Liberty Baptist Church in Wears Valley, and Iglesia Cristiana LaDuz De Jesus.
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is also closed as “fire activity” was reported in several areas, including near the headquarters and the Sugarland Mountain Trail.
“It’s very dangerous weather conditions,” said Dana Soehn with the National Park Service. “We’ve had trees coming down, limbs coming down, and the fire is continuing to grow.”
The park has also closed the Gatlinburg Bypass and Little River Road from Sugarlands Visitor Center to Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Area due to fire activity and downed trees. The park has evacuated employees from the Elkmont and Park Headquarters housing areas.
“Fire officials report that fallen trees have sparked multiple fires from fallen power lines,” said Cindy Ogle, city manager for the city of Gatlinburg. “Fire agencies from multiple agencies are responding to the area fires and I can’t express enough the city’s gratitude for the assistant with the National Park.”
The park has evacuated employees from the Elkmont and Park Headquarters housing areas. The southbound lanes of the Spur from Pigeon Forge to Gatlinburg are also closed due to fire activity.
Two school districts, Sevier and Cocke counties, opted to close schools Tuesday due to the wildfires as well.