Will a Wildfire Ruin Your Vacation in the Great Smoky Mountains? – Great Smoky Mountains Wildfire
The Great Smoky Mountains Wildfire was one of the largest wildfire that has ever happened in the Chimney Tops. If you’re going to the Great Smoky Mountains, maybe the occurrence of a wildfire has crossed your mind. What do you need to know about wildfires? Are wildfires frequent in the Smokies? A wildfire or wild land fire is an uncontrollable fire that engulfs out large fields and areas of land. These fires typically start out of lightning strikes, or in some cases, people are unfortunately the cause. They are started off by careless camping or hiking practices, and sometimes they accidentally start wildfires without intending to.
These fires sometimes burn for a few days or weeks. And can cause great destruction over the land, it can wipe out entire forests and destroy every organic or living matter in it. Wildfires can also be called forest fires; grass fires, peat fires or bush fires depending on what kind of matter is being burnt. Wildfires tend to occur in very warm and dry climates, rather than in thick moist rain-forests. Wildfires mostly happen during the summer season. As is the case in the Smokies; there is an average of two wildfires that happen in the Smokies every year, usually because of lighting. They typically happen in either the month of May or the month of June.
A Great Wildfire in the Great Smoky Mountains -Great Smoky Mountains Wildfire
There are lots of wildfire cases in the United States. According to National Geographic, there are more than 100,000 wildfire cases that clear around 4 million to 5 million acres of land in the United States every year. In recent years, these wildfires have burned over 9 million acres of land. A wildfire moves at speed up to 14 miles an hour consuming everything in its path from trees, bushes, homes, animals and even humans. And in 2016, the Great Smoky Mountain National Park fell victim to its devastation.
The wildfire in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was listed as one of the most deadly wildfires in the eastern United States since the great fires of 1947. The 2016 Great Smoky Mountain Wildfire was reportedly started in November 2016 and ended on December 9, 2016. It was one of the most tragic natural disasters in the history of Tennessee, as the fire claimed 14 lives and injured 134 victims. The wildfire has burned more than 10,000 acres of land inside the National Park and 6,000 acres in other parts area. There are at least 2,000 buildings that were damaged or destroyed during the incident. An estimate of around 14,000 people – tourists and residents alike were forced to evacuate. The towns of Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg were the most impacted towns as they are the closest to the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.
The Cause of the Great Smoky Mountains Wildfire – Great Smoky Mountains Wildfire
The 2016 Great Smoky Mountain Wildfire has caused lots of people a devastating loss. They lost lands, homes, and even loved ones. The fire started at Chimney Tops Trail and went down to the towns of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. Due to the unavoidable dry conditions and high winds, the flames spread quickly throughout the Great Smoky Mountains setting ablaze that burned down more than 15,000 acres of land in total and damaging or destroying hundreds of homes and businesses. Sadly, the wildfire also claimed the lives of 14 souls.
Wildfires are often caused by natural calamities such as lightning strikes and other natural incidences. However, the 2016 Great Smoky Mountain wildfire was reportedly caused by arson. Two people have been arrested and charged with arson for allegedly starting the fire that caused the death of at least 14 people. According to reports, two teens aged 17 and 15 were hiking on the Chimney Tops trail and tossed lit matches around the trail. The bush caught fire, and still, the boys continued hiking, unaware that they had sparked a fire. Five days later, high winds nearly 90 mph had whipped up spreading deadly flames into the towns of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge.
However, these charges were dropped due to an agreement between the State of Tennessee and the Department of the Interior that excluded state jurisdiction from prosecuting criminal activities that occurred entirely within the park. Throughout the course of the investigation, it was also stated that downed power lines caused many of the area fires.
Damages caused by the Great Smoky Mountains Wildfire
Wildfires no matter how small they start can really engulf an entire area. The wildfire in the Great Smoky Mountains in 2016 has left people especially residents around the towns of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge at a significant loss. The blazing inferno that swept through the Great Smoky Mountains and engulfed the neighboring cities of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge did not only kill 14 people but also injured 190 more. The damage caused by the fire was estimated at over $500 million US dollars. Two thousand four hundred sixty buildings were damaged or destroyed, leaving around 15,000 acres of land burned down. Lots of resident’s lost their homes from the fire, and businesses were shattered, causing business people a tremendous financial crisis.
Rebuilding after the Great Smoky Mountains Wildfire
After the fire was contained, residents who vacated were the first ones to be allowed back in their respective places. Soon after, an event featuring music artist Dolly Parton and others was held in Nashville. It was for a cause, and funds from the event were targeted to help the people affected by the fire. About $9 million US dollars was raised to help the victims of the wildfire. Sometime later, Parton hosted another event, and all the proceeds went to help those people who had lost their homes.
The people of Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and the Smoky Mountains are slowly starting to rebuild, what was once their humble and peaceful home. Rebuilding homes is one of the main focuses of the government and slowly little by little have rebuilt those houses that were burnt down.
One popular attraction that was damaged by the wildfire was the Sky Lift attraction. Thankfully, they have already finished rebuilding and are open to the public again. They have even improved the attraction and are keen on being a beacon of hope for the whole community. For instance, the once two-seater now seats three. They want to show that there is still life after a great tragedy and that it can help us find the strength that we didn’t think we had.
Since then, the Great Smoky Mountains have implemented stricter guidelines to help prevent any more untoward incidents. The Smokies is a testament that we can all rise above difficulty. It may not be easy, and it can be quite a challenge. However, the important thing is that we learn from our mistakes and that we are able to improve ourselves after such a period in our lives. We must not focus on what we lost and how things could have been instead, we should focus on how we can rebuild our lives and how we can help others to do as well. Something beautiful can still come out from the trials and challenges of life, and it is up to us to make it beautiful.