Tennessee Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) remains on standby if needed to assist in the response to more than a dozen wildfires blazing in East Tennessee. Radio amateurs in individual communities have been volunteering to support the fire response, however. The fires are threatening the resort communities of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Force, and thousands already have evacuated. Spurred on by high winds and tinder-dry conditions, a wildfire that started on the Chimney Top Mountain in Great Smoky Mountains National Park swept into communities outside the park on Monday. Heavy wind gusts, some exceeding 70 MPH, also carried blazing embers aloft, and these started new fires at some distance to the initial fire. Power lines also were downed, sometimes causing additional fires to erupt.
Tennessee Section Manager Keith Miller, N9DGK, and Assistant Section Emergency Coordinator Bill Farnham, KI4FZT, told ARRL that Tennessee ARES is on standby, and all Amateur Radio response is being handled locally in Sevier, Jefferson, and Knox counties, with no need for outside assistance at this point.