Wildfires in eastern Tennessee kill three people

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GATLINBURG, Tenn.–  Wildfires damaged or destroyed hundreds of buildings in and near eastern Tennessee’s resort towns of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge in a dizzying 24 hours, officials said.

Responders still are trying to evaluate the destruction caused by the flames that spread with little warning from the Great Smoky Mountains.

The three victims who died in the fires in Sevier County, died in separate incidents, Gatlinburg Fire Chief Greg Miller said.

Mayor Mike Werner, who apparently lost his home to wildfires, described the scene in his resort city on Monday night and into Tuesday.

“People were basically running for their lives,” he said. “When you see the fire it is a scary thing to see.” He said destroyed properties in many cases are next to property that appears untouched or with little damage.

Officials said they are not certain when residents will be able to return to evacuated neighborhoods. They’re concerned about the threat of additional wildfires overnight.

More stories on the fires here