Now that the wildfires that ravaged Western North Carolina a couple of months ago are no longer active, U.S. Forest Service officials are beginning to assess the aftermath damages and create a plan of action for the spring.
For those who love the outdoors, it’s not hard to list the reasons why Western North Carolina is a spectacular place to live, and from that standpoint, the year 2016 certainly didn’t fail to deliver. The curtains are now closing on 2016, but the year will get its proper send-off with this roundup of favorite moments and memorable stories from the past 12 months outdoors.
A Cherokee firefighter has pled guilty to federal charges for intentionally starting seven wildfires on the Qualla Boundary between 2010 and 2014, which cost the Bureau of Indian Affairs a total of $106,700 to extinguish.
The smoke has cleared from the Chimney Tops 2 Fire, which escaped the Great Smoky Mountains National Park Nov. 28 to cover more than 17,000 acres and result in 14 deaths, but park officials are just beginning the daunting task of dealing with the aftermath.
Two Cherokee men have been arrested in connection with wildfires set on the Qualla Boundary this fall.
Two juveniles have been arrested in Tennessee for allegedly starting the Chimney Tops 2 Fire, which ballooned to encompass more than 17,000 acres and led to the deaths of 14 people after hurricane-strength winds swept it through Gatlinburg and parts of Pigeon Forge Nov. 28.
When hurricane-force winds met burning, bone-dry forest, the city of Gatlinburg transformed overnight on Nov. 28-29 from lively tourist town to panic-seared disaster area. Gusts clocking in as high as 87 miles per hours blew balls of fire down from the blaze’s origin in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, catching residents and visitors by surprise in the days following Thanksgiving. People raced to evacuate, to escape the flames that threatened to consume the entire city.
GATLINBURG — It started with an ember.
One single ember, falling from the sky into Michael Luciano’s front yard in Chalet Village in Gatlinburg.
GATLINBURG — Just before hitting the McDonald’s along U.S. 321 east of Gatlinburg on Dec. 2, traffic slows to a crawl. Then, to all but a stop. Hundreds of homeowners, business owners and residents line up in anxious anticipation as to what they’ll find when they finally make it through the checkpoint. An intact home, landscaped with magically unsinged shrubs? Or a pile of ash, nothing left except perhaps a few concrete steps leading to a nonexistent porch?
GATLINBURG — Coaches and team jerseys were absent from Rocky Top Sports World Friday morning, but the sports-complex-turned-Red-Cross-shelter surged with activity as Dec. 2 began.