SEVIER COUNTY - High winds are toppling trees and power lines across the region, with Sevier County one of the hardest hit areas.. There have been winds up to 98 miles per hour reported in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
All visitor centers in the park and most park roads have been closed, according to the park service. Downed trees are creating traffic issues on the spur between Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. The 11-mile stretch of Highway 129 in Blount County known as the Dragon is also closed because of downed trees.
Schools near the Gatlinburg-Pittman area will be closed Friday as a result of the wind damage and active brush fire. That brush fire is 100% contained as of 7:30 p.m. Thursday. Gatlinburg-Pittman High, Pi Beta Phi Elementary and Pittman Center Elementary will all be closed Friday, and all other Sevier County schools will open one hour later.
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Dollywood is closing early because of the high winds.
More than 12,000 customers of the Sevier County Electric System were without power shortly after noon on Thursday. Customers in Gatlinburg, Pittman Center, Ski Mountain, and Cobbly Nob are affected. As of 10:30 p.m., more than 7,500 customers were still without power.
Sevier County Electric Superintendent Allen Robbins told 10News that downed trees took down two substations---one in south Gatlinburg and one in the Glades. By the early afternoon, the first, located in the center of Gatlinburg, had been restored and crews were still working on the second one.
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The high winds are creating problems for crews who are working to restore power, because as they get one tree cleared, another one falls.
Sevier County officials said one person was treated at LeConte Medical Center for injuries after a tree fell on a house.
A Red Cross shelter has been opened at the Pigeon Forge Community Center for anyone affected by the power outages. It is located at 170 Community Center Drive.
Gatlinburg-Pittman High School, Pi Beta Phi and Pittman Center Elementary schools are experiencing power outages, though all students are safe. Parents can pick them up if they wish.
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