Amateur Radio volunteers are providing communication support to American Red Cross shelters in Sevier County, Tennessee. Wind-driven flames and embers from the Chimney Top Fire in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, now closed, spread on Monday to threaten the communities of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge in East Tennessee. Authorities have closed Highway 441 into Gatlinburg, although it remains open only to emergency traffic and outbound evacuation traffic. Media reports indicate that fire caused considerable destruction in Gatlinburg, a resort community that attracts thousands of visitors throughout the year. At peak, an estimated 1,300 evacuees occupied six Red Cross or independently operated shelters, state authorities said, although that number now is reported to have declined somewhat.
“At this point, no additional Amateur Radio support has been requested,” ARRL Tennessee Section Manager Keith Miller, N9DGK, said on Tuesday evening. “Members of nearby ARES® groups should remain aware of the potential for this situation to change rapidly.”
Miller said all requests for additional communication support will come from the State of Tennessee and local served agencies — or through the ARES chain of command.