Spring break in Gatlinburg interrupted by wildfires


Sevier County Emergency Management Agency

Forest fires break out in Wears Valley on March 30.

Anna Sauer, General Staff Reporter

Last week was spring break. We went to Gatlinburg with a big group of people. What we didn’t know was that we will forever remember this trip.

Our trip started with lots of fun. We hiked in the smoky mountains, went shopping, had a movie night, and spent time together as a group. 

On Wednesday, March 30,  we went to the Dollywood amusement park. Around 2 p.m., we got a phone call. The person on the phone said that there was a wildfire burning in Wears Valley, which was close to our cabin. 

We ended up leaving Dollywood to get our stuff. When we got closer to the mountains, we could see smoke everywhere. We packed our stuff really quick and left Gatlinburg earlier than planned. 

The fire has spread to nearly 4,000 acres. 11,000 homes had been evacuated because of the fire. Two helicopters came to dump water close to burning houses. 

The fire spread very fast because of the weather; high winds and dry conditions had a big impact on the fire.

According to USA Today, Tennessee Division of Forestry spokesperson Brook Smith said, “We’re currently putting in lines and doing structure protection. As the fire breaks those contaminants lines, we are pulling back and readjusting, and putting in new lines. The wind is making this fire very hard to manage.”

This fire reminded people of the fire that happened in 2016 in this area. A big forest fire was started by juveniles playing with matches and fueled by unusually high winds. This fire happened on November 26, 2016. 

The fire was so big that it took the firefighters until December 13, almost a month, to extinguish. Forest fires are very common for that area. 

Even though we had to leave early, it was a good time that we spent in Gatlinburg.