Tennessee Wildfires- Who set them?

 In Domestic

Gatlinburg, Sevier County, Tennessee- The death toll has risen to  eleven people, with at least 80 others injured, and more than 700 homes and businesses were destroyed when Tennessee wildfires raged through the eastern part of the state on November 28, 29, and 30. The death toll is expected to rise. The cause of the fires is now believed to be human.

The fire began on Chimney Top Mountain on November 26. With extreme drought conditions, it quickly roared down the mountain toward Gatlinburg.

Rain thankfully came on Wednesday night, knocking out some of the flames, at least in Gatlinburg. The city remains under an emergency evacuation order. The fires is considered 10% contained, and has burned over 15,000 acres.

One man, Carew Blankenship has been arrested for deliberately causing 2 of the fires by using a cigarette. But he backtracked on his story when confronted by news media and said it wasn’t intentional.

tennessee fires

Tennessee Dept of Transportation photo of a home in rubble

One resident, Michael Lucian, captured this terrifying video as he, his companion, and his dog tried to escape the flames and destruction of the wildfire in Chalet Village, a small town in Gatlinburg.

Family members are missing in this resort-heavy part of Tennessee. The Great Smoky Mountains is one of the most popular tourist areas in the US.

 

Hollywood Actor James Woods lost track of his mother while talking with her on the phone. When he tried to called her back there was no answer.

Dollywood, the resort owned by country singer Dolly Parton was spared damage, but “more than a dozen cabins managed through Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Cabins were damaged or destroyed.” She has started a fund and pledged $1000 for each family that has lost their home for the next 6 months.

One woman exited her workplace and found herself surrounded by flames.  She and five coworkers had to walk for 20 minutes through the fire until they reached assistance.

“It was like we were in hell; hell opened up….Walking through hell, that’s what it was. . . . I never want to see something like that again in my life, ever.” Linda Monholland, fire survivor in an AP interview

Red Cross shelters are open, but the people who have lost everything, and those who can’t go home yet are devastated. Some left with just the clothes on their back. Some lost pets and homes. For some there was no warning as the flames engulfed their community.

Gatlinburg with a population of around 4,000, and neighboring Pigeon Forge, are considered gateways to the Great Smoky Mountains. The region has been ravaged by drought, so it was ripe for disaster. The winds whipped up to over 60 miles per hour (some reports are saying 87), pushing the fires into the town. Fortunately, most of downtown Gatlinburg was spared.

Coincidence?

Who set these fires? This seems to be awfully coincidental to the fires that ravaged Israel recently, which officials say was likely a terrorist action.  Some counter-terrorism experts are asking that question.

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