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Tennessee wildfire: What we know Thursday


The death toll from the wildfire in Tennessee rose to seven on Wednesday as officials thanked “the big guy” for rains that tamped down the flames, but admitted that only a small fraction of the fire was under control.

The wildfire, which is located mainly in Sevier County, is believed to be the largest one the state has seen in more than 100 years. Officials say they believe the fire was 'human-caused.'

As of Thursday morning, the fire has damaged or destroyed more than 700 buildings. Three hundred of those are in the city limits of the resort town of Gatlinburg. Sevier County Mayor Larry Waters thanked “the big guy up above” for the rain Wednesday, which gave firefighters some relief.

Here’s what we know about the fire Thursday morning:

• Three bodies were recovered Wednesday, bringing the death toll to seven so far. Several people are reported missing. The three bodies were found together.

• According to officials, the fire is about 10 percent contained as of Wednesday night. 

• As of Wednesday, the fire had burned nearly 15,700 acres. 

• Dolly Parton, a native of Sevier County, has pledged to pay $1,000 a month to families who have  lost their home in the fire. Called the “My People Fund,” the money will help families "until they get back up on their feet,” Parton said in a video message.

• The evacuation of Pigeon Forge has been lifted but is still in effect for Gatlinburg, according to Wildfiretoday.com.

• There has been no arrests in connection with the fire officials say was “human-caused.”

• The famous Alamo Steak House in Gatlinburg was one of the buildings destroyed by the fire. Click here to see what else has been burned.  

From Wednesday:

• The original fire that sparked the dozen other blazes that have moved across southern Tennessee was "human-caused," National Park Service spokeswoman Dana Soehn said.

 • On Monday afternoon, wind gusts of up to 87 mph hit the area, spreading the fire before the region saw ¾ to 1 inch of rain overnight Tuesday.

 • Gatlinburg Fire Chief Greg Miller has confirmed that the at least three of the four victims killed in the blaze died in separate incidents.

 • Cabins on the grounds of the Dollywood theme park have burned, according to authorities, but the park has not been damaged.

 • At least 30 buildings have burned in Gatlinburg.

 • 50-60 firetrucks and heavy equipment have been sent to the fire zones.

 • Between 100 and 125 members of the National Guard have been deployed.

 • More than 200 firefighters from around the state are in the area fighting the fire.

 • On Tuesday, a fire was reported near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park headquarters.

 Sources: The Knoxville Sentinel; The Associated Press; Wildfiretoday.com; USA Today; The Washington Post 


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