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Seven people dead in Tennessee wildfire

Seven people dead in Tennessee wildfire

In an update at 4:13 p.m., it was announced that the death toll in the wildfires in Sevier County, Tenn. has risen to seven people.

Dollywood is poised to make a significant contribution to help with the recovery from the deadly wildfire that swept through Sevier County on this week, County Mayor Larry Waters said Wednesday night. A representative with Vanderbilt Medical Center said the three patients are listed in critical condition and remain in the burn center. In total, 14,000 residents and tourists evacuated the area. Forty-five people had been treated at an area hospital, officials said.

The call dropped as Wood's brother raced up the fiery mountain trying to get to his mother.

Then he lost the connection.

Benzschawel said police banged on his door Monday night to wake him and his partner, Denise Bearden.

"Um, just hoping for a miracle", Reed said.

Wood is hoping that she's at a shelter or a friend's house.

Gatlinburg leaders confirm seven people have been killed in the wildfire that damaged and continues to threaten much of East Tennessee.

The last time Reed spoke to his wife he told her to call 911.

Officials said they remain uncertain certain when residents would be able to return to evacuated neighborhoods. Search and rescue teams were still scouring areas they couldn't reach because they were blocked by trees and power lines. "There's a few areas that we were unable to get to on Monday night because of the swift nature of the firestorm. and we're finishing those up today".

Yet the rain was also posing new challenges, creating small mudslides and rockslides, Gatlinburg Fire Chief Greg Miller said.

McLean said four rooms were booked and another 15 people were having a private dinner when the hotel's chef and event coordinator told everyone to evacuate. Heavy rain fell early Wednesday, which is helping put out some of the wildfires, but officials say more than 200 firefighters are still out battling flames and hotspots.

The fire was carried by winds as fast as 87 miles per hour, Gatlinburg fire officials said.

Park Superintendent Cassius Cash said late Wednesday afternoon that the fire was "likely to be human-caused". The NWS reports: "The source was from forest fires in the Great Smoky Mountains area, including the one which engulfed Gatlinburg, Tenn., Monday night".

High winds and parched vegetation caused by the worst drought in almost a decade provided fuel for the fires that burned in the eastern part of Tennessee, threatening two tourist resort towns.

"You know, it happened so fast, it was staggering", said Gatlinburg Mayor Mike Werner, who lost his two-story home as well as the condominium business he has managed for 31 years.

"By the time he got back, the house was in flames, and Constance, Chloe and Lilly were missing". Rain had begun to fall in some areas, but experts predicted it would not be enough to end the relentless drought that has spread across several Southern states and provided fuel for fires now burning for weeks in states including Tennessee, Georgia and North Carolina. In a span of 15 minutes, the fire chief said, emergency workers were alerted to nearly 20 burning buildings.

Tennessee Bureau of Investigation established a hotline for missing person reports.

Preliminary surveys indicate that the fires have wiped out the more than 100 buildings of the Westgate Smoky Mountain Resort & Spa.

Of those, 300 buildings were inside Gatlinburg's city limits. Officials say most of the burned areas will have been searched by the end of Thursday.

School officials in Cocke and Sevier counties canceled classes for Wednesday. The park was not damaged.

Dollywood, the resort owned by country music star Dolly Parton in the mountain town of Pigeon Forge, was largely spared, though the flames licked it's doorstep.