Air attacks, big box couldn’t cage fire’s surge toward Gatlinburg

By Matt Lakin
Knoxville News Sentinel
November 22, 2017
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US East

Greg Salansky

GATLINBURG — How did a one-acre fire on the Chimney Tops trail in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park transform into a massive firestorm? Take an inside look at the events leading up to the November 2016 Gatlinburg wildfires that claimed 24 lives.  The crew commander looked down and didn’t like what he saw. Below the plane stretched a growing fire, about 25 to 35 acres, “active on all flanks” as a slight breeze rippled across the Chimney Tops peaks in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. …Why hadn’t the park called sooner? “No action was being taken on the fire perimeter,” the commander later told a National Park Service review team. “There were plenty of resources available.” Greg Salansky, fire management officer for the park, kept watch from the ground. The final bill for the water drops wouldn’t be pretty — $10,000 to $20,000 — but he saw no choice.

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