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Ten people were reported dead and 80 treated for injuries after devastating wildfires raged through Sevier County Monday night.
According to WVLT, three people were found dead from fires in the Chalet Village area, and one person was discovered dead near a motel on Highway 321. Three more people were found dead on Campbell Lead Road. Authorities did not release details about the other fatalities.
Two others were rescued safely at Westgate Resorts and one person was rescued on Ski Mountain.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said it has received 100 phone calls, since it established a hotline, 1-800-TBI-FIND, for people to call with reports of missing loved ones.
More than 700 structures in Sevier County were destroyed in the fires. 300 of them were destroyed in Gatlinburg. The forestry service said more than 17,108 acres were burned. 11,000 of them were reportedly inside the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Reportedly all fires in the city and county are extinguished except for a few hot spots.
People who owned or rented property will be allowed into the area today to survey the damage. Officials say that you will need to be able to provide some type of proof to prove that you belong in the burn area. Officials say to expect delays in areas where crews are searching for victims or attempting to remove hazards. Officials also remind residents that these burned out structures are not safe and residents must exercise extreme caution.
In the wake of the devastating wildfires in East Tennessee, Secretary of State Tre Hargett is urging people to use caution when trying to help fire victims.
Hargett says we should be diligent in giving to only reputable organizations so that they can best assist the people of Gatlinburg and Sevier County. He says you should not be pressured into giving cash donations to people you don't know. Unfortunately, during disasters there are scam artists who prey on our generosity.
If a nonprofit asks you for a contribution, check to see if it is registered with the Division of Charitable Solicitations, Fantasy Sports and Gaming. Ask questions about how and who will benefit from your donation. Do your research and don't assume a social media or blog recommendation has been approved by the nonprofit. avoid giving cash. Always ask for a receipt and if your contribution is tax deductible. And pay close attention to the name of the nonprofit organization, as there are many with similar names.
Motorists are already seeing higher prices at the gas pump this week, and prices will move even higher now, based on an agreement reached Wednesday by OPEC.
OPEC announced plans to cut crude oil production by 1.2 million barrels a day, effective in January. The shift is aimed at draining a global glut that led to lower fuel prices in the last two years.
Analysts believe the OPEC agreement could boost crude prices by $5 or more, which would directly lead to increases of at least 13 cents at the pump. Retail prices were already rising this week based on the expectation that a deal would be reached. So far this week, prices are up 2 cents in Tennessee.
Home Instead Senior Care in Crossville is now taking donations to help those affected by the Gatlinburg fires. If you wish to make a donation, items that are needed include jackets, newer used clothing, blankets, canned food, bottled water, shampoo, conditioner, chap stick, deodorant, tooth brushes, tooth paste, hair brushes, diapers, wipes, kids toy, old cell phone chargers or anything beneficial for these families who have lost their homes. Donations can be dropped off at Home Instead Senior Care, 19 Stanley Street, in Crossville, Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. For questions, call Home Instead at 931-707-5595.
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. Callers should be prepared to relay as much identifying information as possible, including names, phone numbers, vehicle identification, and last known whereabouts. Recognizing the importance of accounting for individuals who may be missing, the TBI urges the public to refrain from calling to inquire about the status of personal properties in the affected areas.
The information gathered by the TBI will be immediately available to law enforcement authorities in the response area for further follow-up.