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Wildfires Blaze Destructive Path through Tennessee

Image of Pigeon Forge wildfire courtesy of Bruce McCamish Photography.

With more than 150 homes destroyed, more than 14,000 people evacuated, and roughly 2,000 individuals seeking refuge in emergency shelters, the recent wildfires in Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge/Sevier County, Tennessee, will go down in history as the most devastating in the area in 100 years, according to USA Today.

At the time of this writing, at least seven people have been killed, 15,000 acres burned, and hundreds of businesses scorched by flames driven by 90-mph wind gusts raced through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park into surrounding towns.

The members and staff of ICMA express concern and support for the area’s victims, and our thoughts go out to the thousands of individuals and their families who have been displaced, injured, or tragically killed during the disastrous wildfires.

Support for local government employees

Gatlinburg City Manager and former ICMA Executive Board Member Cindy Ogle and her husband Bud and the mayor and other city employees in Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and Sevierville, Tennessee, lost their homes from the wildfires that hit the Smoky Mountains earlier this week. 

After conversations with Cindy and the Tennessee City Management Association (TCMA) Board, Mike Walker, executive director of TCMA, reports that a unified effort with the Tennessee Municipal League Risk Management Pool is under way to raise funds to help the impacted city employees and officials with out-of-pocket expenses not covered by any homeowners insurance they may have.  

Follow the link below to contribute to this fundraising effort under a “Go Fund Me” account established by the pool, which has a goal to raise $100,000. No amount is too small. Any help you can provide will be greatly appreciated:

Or, if you would prefer to donate by check, please address those to: The Pool, Attention: Dawn Crawford, 5100 Maryland Way, Brentwood, TN 37027. Please note on the check: "East Tenn Wildfire City Employees Relief Fund."  
If you would like to send Cindy a card, her work address is: City of Gatlinburg, P.O. Box 5, Gatlinburg, TN 37738. Mike Walker reports that there is no phone or internet service in Gatlinburg City Hall. 

In addition, the American Red Cross is accepting donations for evacuees and first responders to the Sevier County fire. You can make a $10 financial donation by texting "REDCROSS" to 90999.

ICMA’s Wildfire Preparation and Response Resources contain information for communities that are dealing with wildfires.

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