Officials say 3 dead in Tennessee wildfires

Sidney James Mountain Lodge in Gatlinburg, Tennessee (Credit: Ashley Biggens via WATE ReportIt!)
Sidney James Mountain Lodge in Gatlinburg, Tennessee (Credit: Ashley Biggens via WATE ReportIt!)

GATLINBURG, Tenn. (AP) – A Tennessee mayor says three people have died in the wildfires that destroyed hundreds of homes and businesses near the Great Smoky Mountains.

Sevier County Mayor Larry Waters said Tuesday afternoon that he didn’t have any details on the deaths. The mayor says authorities are going door-to-door to make sure everyone is safe. About a dozen people have been injured.

Gatlinburg’s mayor says they firefighters are still battling hotspots and there will be a curfew in effect Tuesday night. More than 14,000 residents and tourists were forced to evacuate the tourist city in the mountains.

Aquarium officials in wildfire-threatened Gatlinburg, Tennessee, say they have a team of biologists inside the facility and that all of the 10,000 fish and other animals are safe.

READ MORE: Ripley’s Aquarium ‘intact’ and running on generator

Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies made the announcement in a statement Tuesday, hours after workers had to flee the building when wildfires fueled by high winds spread across parts of eastern Tennessee. More than 14,000 people in the city were forced to leave and an entire resort was wiped out by the fire. A dozen people were injured but no deaths have been reported.

Aquarium officials say police escorted an “emergency team” back into the facility to check on the animals Tuesday.

The aquarium will remain closed until the evacuation orders are lifted. Officials say more than 2 million people visit the aquarium each year.

 

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