Gatlinburg city leaders passed an emergency ordinance to extend the deadline for cleaning up wildfire debris.

The original deadline to clear all the debris and damage was 17 days ago - on September 30.

And the extension has many breathing a sigh of relief.

There was only a little bit of discussion among the commissioners Tuesday night. The ordinance passed unanimously.

They're aiming to help those last few homeowners who are still dealing with wildfire damage.

"As a community, we've really grown a lot closer," spokeswoman for the city Marci Claude said.

The wildfire that burned through Gatlinburg on Nov. 28 hasn't torn this community apart.

"Helping each other through this difficult time is first and foremost," Claude said. "I think we're all carrying one another's burdens."

At a meeting Tuesday, commissioners decided to extend the deadline for debris removal caused by the wildfires.

"About 90 percent of them who were affected by the wildfires have cleaned up their properties," said Claude. "However, there is that last 10 percent of folks who do not have the funds to clean up their properties."

That's why commissioners unanimously passed the ordinance, extending the deadline to December 31, which is the same as Sevier County.

Claude said this gives homeowners time to pay for what's been a massive expense.

"They were either uninsured or underinsured," said Claude. "So by extending the deadline to the end of the year, this gives those folks time to apply for a FEMA program to see if they qualify for funds to help finish the cleanup and just get moving on."

Moving on and away from a life-changing event that could have easily torn this community apart -- but didn't.

"Everybody is anxious to clean up and move on, and this is just another step in that direction," said Claude.

There is a $50 a day penalty for homeowners not meeting the deadline.

Claude says they may consider extending the deadline again, but it's up to the commission.