Latter-day Saints Impacted by Tennessee Fires

Contributed By Jason Swensen, Church News staff writer

  • 1 December 2016

GATLINBURG, TENNESSEE

Fifteen Latter-day Saint families are counted among the estimated 14,000 people displaced by wildfires in Tennessee’s Sevier County.

The massive blaze, which is believed to be human caused, has caused nine deaths, destroyed 700 homes, and consumed more than 15,000 acres in the Great Smoky Mountains. Many of the destroyed homes were inside Gatlinburg city limits.

No members or missionaries were harmed, although the fire did force 15 member families from their residences. Two member-owned homes were scorched by the flames but were not destroyed. No Church-owned buildings were damaged, said Church welfare official Bruce Muir.

The Gatlinburg blaze apparently began November 28 when embers from a wildfire on nearby Chimney Tops Trails wafted into areas of the city. Flames swept through Gatlinburg in less than 15 minutes, fanned by winds at speeds that approached 90 mph, according to the Knoxville News Sentinel.

Brother Muir said members have put together hygiene kits to give to fire victims. Members are also assisting where they can in community relief efforts.