SEVIER COUNTY - With days to go until the deadline, Gatlinburg officials are considering an extension to the wildfire debris removal timeline.
The current deadline for wildfire debris removal is this Saturday, Sept. 30. After that date, property owners can be fined $50 per day for remaining debris from last November's wildfires.
Officials estimate 90 percent of cleanup is complete, but about 50 families have not demolished their burned properties.
"It has come to our attention that the families that own these properties may have been uninsured or under insured and are having difficulty finding the funding to remove the debris from their property," said Gatlinburg spokeswoman Marci Claude.
The city believes many of those property owners will qualify for FEMA assistance and are waiting to hear back, so city employees are recommending an emergency extension to the city commission until the end of the year.
Claude expects there to be a grace period.
"With the next commission meeting coming up after the Sept. 30 deadline, I don't believe there will be fines imposed on those families," she said.
Mark Reagan's childhood home burned to the ground on Nov. 28, 2016, as the wildfires swept through the community. The flames left a twisted pile of rubble behind.
"I have removed most of the metal," Reagan said Tuesday.
But the foundation and other shattered pieces are still there.
Reagan said it's been a busy year.
"There was a kind of a lot more pressing things to take care of before the debris removal," he said.
Reagan said he's not waiting on any outside help, but he would appreciate the extra time to make sure he gets the best price.
"Well in my case it would help me a little bit. I'll follow the rules, I know I'm waiting toward the deadline but, yeah, it would," he said.
The proposed extension would not affect commercial properties. Sevier County's deadline to clean up debris is Dec. 31.
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