Search and rescue teams continued to comb through the Gatlinburg, TN area on Wednesday after wildfires ravaged Smoky Mountain resort towns earlier in the week.
Officials in Servier County confirmed at least seven people have been found dead from what they say is the worst fire to hit Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg in 100 years. Driven by 80 mile-per-hour winds, hundreds of homes and business have been destroyed, reports WBIR.com. Multiple cell towers burned down, causing spotty cell service according to one area broadcaster.
Officials are asking residents to limit their cell phone use and Gatlinburg emergency dispatchers are asking that people refrain from calling 911 unless it’s a dire emergency. They are inundated with calls and are struggling to keep up with demand, reports WBIR.
In McMinn County, the mayor asked people on Wednesday to reduce cell phone use due to coverage issues after a tornado swept through the area overnight.
Many residents and tourists are staying in shelters across East Tennessee following a mandatory evacuation order, reports WATE. U.S. Cellular’s retail store at 562 Winfield Dunn Parkway is open to residents impacted by the wildfires, providing free phone calls, charging stations and internet service.
December 1, 2016