On November 23, a deadly fire that began inside the Great Smokey Mountains spread across Tennessee claiming the lives of 14 people, damaging over 2,400 buildings, and leaving many of Gatlinburg’s 4,000 residents homeless. More than 14,000 people were evacuated from Gatlinburg, a popular tourist destination, and the nearby town of Pigeon Forge.
BAPS Charities has been working with the TEMA (Tennessee Emergency Management Agency) and the Red Cross to assist in emergency response efforts. Over a dozen BAPS Charities volunteers arrived on-site at aid locations, contributing 107 boxes of high-calorie snack bars and over 1,300 rolls of toilet paper at the request of first responders. BAPS Charities remains in contact with TEMA in Nashville to understand evolving needs and provide support ranging from emergency supplies to volunteer labor.
Gusting winds of over 80 MPH were responsible for the fire’s rapid growth over several days. While the fire continues to smolder, crews are working to contain the damage while rainfall has helped to reduce the spread. As residents begin returning to their homes, BAPS Charities will continue to work with local responders to support the ongoing health and safety efforts.