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April 1: Wears Valley fire now 85% contained; Seymour wildfire 25% contained as Sevier Co. scales back evacuations

Crews are battling the Sevier County wildfires in Wears Valley and Seymour.

SEVIER COUNTY, Tenn. — ***Editor's Note: This article contains wildfire updates specifically for Friday, April, and details WBIR received the morning of Saturday, April 2. For the latest updates, please head to our front page.*** 

On Friday, crews made major progress in containing two wildfires in Wears Valley and Seymour, scaling back some evacuations for the area north of the Hatcher Mountain fire and south of Dupont Springs.

As of 10:50 a.m. on Saturday, the Wears Valley fire is 85% contained and covers 2,675 acres, per the Tennessee Forestry Division. The forestry division said it corrected the acreage total after erroneously reporting it had decreased. Bruce Miller, the incident commander with the Tennessee Forestry Division, said crews are in "control and mop-up status."

Waters said the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, Tennessee Department of Agriculture Ag Crime Unit and Sevier County Sheriff's Office are investigating the cause of the Wears Valley fire, but no criminal activity is suspected at this point.

"Our thoughts are with the firefighters who continue to battle the blaze and all of the first responders working around the clock to keep residents safe," the TBI said.

Spanish Version: Alcalde: Causa de incendio forestal en Wears Valley bajo investigación; Incendio en Seymour aún 0% contenido

As of 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, The Tennessee Division of Forestry said the Seymour wildfire in the area of Millstone Gap Road and Cold Springs Hollow Road near the Blount-Sevier County line covers 643 acres. The fire is considered 25% contained.

Miller said responders are doing an "aggressive size up" of the fire with dozers and hotshot crews from the U.S. Forest Service. He said air support is on standby at this time.

However, Seymour Volunteer Fire Chief John Linsenbigler said he estimates the fire is 90% contained, and a hotshot crew from North Carolina is looking at a couple of hotspots. He said the fire started at a house and blew away from there.

Sevier County has created a website at this link that shows people currently active evacuations, shelter locations, road closures, and a section for damage assessments that will be updated once those are completed.

EVACUATIONS

Evacuations remain in place for both fires but have been scaled back on Friday.

The evacuation area is now split into two zones -- one for the Hatcher Mountain fire in Wears Valley, and one for the Millstone Gap fire in Seymour. The county created a dynamic evacuation map that lets people type in an address to see if they are in the evacuation area. If you are unsure if you need to evacuate, you are advised to do so out of caution.

Shelters have been established at the following locations to help anyone displaced by the fires:

  • The Pigeon Forge Community Center at 170 Community Center Drive
  • Seymour Heights Christian Church at 122 Boyds Creek Highway

ROADS

Roads closures remain in place. Sevier County has added road closures to its evacuation map, which can find at this link.

  • Most roads on Hatcher Mountain 
  • Happy Hollow at S. Clear Fork
  • Little Valley at Walden's Creek
  • S. Helton at Walden's Creek
  • Spurling Way at Hatcher Mountain Road
  • N. Clearfork at Walden's Creek
  • Cove Creek Way at Wears Valley Road
  • Willow Tree Road at Wears Valley Road
  • Ogles View Road at Wears Valley Road
  • McPherson Lane at Wears Valley Road
  • McGill Road at Wears Valley Road
  • Whipoorwill Hill Way at Wears Valley Road
  • Wears Overlook Way at Wears Valley Road
  • Hidden Hollow Way at Wears Valley Road

DAMAGE AND INJURIES

More than 300 structures are affected by the Wears Valley fire, and no fatalities have been reported. The mayor said teams will begin damage assessments Friday afternoon, which the county will provide updates on at this link.

Just one civilian has suffered injuries so far. He was a contractor working excavation on a home near the fire. On Thursday, his wife identified him as Bradley Slone Jr. She said, "he's struggling with pain and swollen very bad."

Two firefighters were also treated at the scene while fighting the blaze.

In the Seymour fire, at least one structure in Blount County has been affected, Sevier County EMA said. Just before 1 p.m. on Friday, Linsenbigler said one house was a total loss and a deck was damaged.

►Read More: 

TEMA launched a Sevier County Wildfire recovery webpage to provide information on state and local resources available to help wildfire survivors on Thursday. 

The Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance has a team in place at the Sevier County Fairgrounds, 753 Old Knoxville Highway, in Sevierville, beginning Friday who will be able to assist those affected by the Wears Valley wildfire to file insurance claims.

TEMA said insurance claim help and information from TDCI is also available by calling 615-741-2218, or 1-800-342-4029, and on TDCI’s website.

HOW TO HELP

Sevier County officials are directing donations to MountainTough.org, and the Sevier County Fairgrounds are officially open to receive donations. A full list of needed items is available online.

Below you can also find a link to agencies collecting donations for crews and people affected by the fires. 

RELATED: How to help those affected by the Sevier County wildfires in Wears Valley and Seymour

Senator Marsha Blackburn expressed her support on Twitter and said that her office is on standby to provide any assistance.

   

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