Chimney Tops Fire in GSMNP Spreads
The Chimney Tops fire in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is spreading due to the high winds as a front moves toward the mountains bringing rain tomorrow. The fire area now covers almost 500 acres. The Chimney 2 fire is burning in the Chimney Tops and Bullhead Ridge area. Many parts of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park have been closed due to heavy smoke and fire. This morning park officials closed Newfound Gap Road (US 441 between Gatlinburg, TN and Cherokee, NC). Other roads closed include Cherokee Orchard Rd. and Elkmont Road. Many trails have also been closed in the park.
The town of Gatlinburg had very heavy smoke today and some peole were having trouble breathing due to the smoke. There are reports of ash falling from the sky due to the winds and nearby fires. One Sevier County school had to evacuate students to another location today due to smoke and hazardous conditions. Ober Gatlinburg was closed early today because of the smoke and Sugarland Visitors Center near Gatlinburg was closed early due to heavy smoke in the area.
Another fire near the Twin Creeks Picnic Pavilion off Cherokee Orchard Road was reported this morning. Conditions have changed rapidly today due to the high winds, changing wind directions and low humidity. There are some neighborhoods in Gatlinburg and Pittman Center that are now being threatened by fire with possible evacuations being needed.
Rain is the forecast for tonight and again Tuesday night. Several inches of rain is expected to fall over the next 2-3 days which will be a huge help in battling the wildfires in the area. Ahead of the front high winds were gusting today from 25- 50 mph. The high winds have made the wildfires worse today. Helicopters continues to drop water over the sites. The rough terrain and steep slopes are making it extremely difficult to reach the fire and contain the spread.
More firefighters have been brought in to help. Multiple firefighter agencies have joined together to battle the fires including National Park Service fire crews, the Gatlinburg Fire Department, the Tennessee State Forestry Department, Sevier County fire department, Blount County fire department and many other local as well as out
of state fire departments.
The GSMNP website lists the following areas closed due to fire and/or unsafe conditions. “Backcountry areas are unsafe for travel and the following trails and backcountry campsites are currently closed until further notice. Closed Backcountry Trails include Chimney Tops, Road Prong, Huskey Gap, Sugarland Mountain, Rough Creek, Little River, Cucumber Gap, Jakes Creek, Miry Ridge, Goshen Prong, Old Sugarlands, Bullhead, Rainbow Falls, Alum Cave, Brushy Mountain, Trillium Gap, Baskins Creek, Porters Creek, and Grapeyard Ridge trails. Closed Backcountry Campsites include 21, 23, 24, 26, 27, 30, 31, 32, Mt. Le Conte shelter, and Mt. Collins shelter.”
The cause of the Chimney Tops fire is under investigation with reports of this fire being due to human activity. Any one with information about the cause of this fire, or other fires in the park should call the park’s Tip Line at 865-436-1580.
Just updated now:WBIR is reporting these evacuations-“Downtown Gatlinburg, Ski Mountain, Mynatt Park, Turkey’s Nest, Carter Town Road, East Foothills, Westgate Community.”
Here are some are links to some live web cams that show the fires, smoke and the conditions in the GSMNP affected by the area fires:
Gatlinburg SpaceNeedle live web cam- showing a live view of the Gatlinburg Parkway, the local ski lift at Ober Gatlinburg, resorts, and the Great Smoky Mountains.
Look Rock Live web cam – with view of views of Mount Le Conte, Clingmans Dome and Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountains
GSMNP Purchase Knob live webcam- looking northeast
See the smoke from the Chimney Tops fire (posted on youtube by Riders For Christ Ministries)