Blog for Zip line Attraction in the Smoky Mountains

Located in Pigeon Forge, TN and near Gatlinburg and Sevierville.


Gatlinburg Re-Opens To The Public In Wake Of Wildfires

By Ross Bodhi Ogle
Posted on December 6, 2016

Last week's wildfires took quite a toll on the residents of and visitors to Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Unfortunately, there were 14 fatalities and 145 people who were treated for fire-related injuries or illnesses. In addition, more than 1,700 structures were damaged or destroyed by the fires, and right now, there aren't even any estimates of how much all that will ultimately cost property owners and insurance companies. In Great Smoky Mountains National Park, some 17,000 acres have burned in the Chimney Tops No. 2 fire, and $4.5 million has been spent to fight it.

Yes, things have been bad, but this week, we're going to focus more on the positive things that have happened in the last few days. The area has been receiving some much-needed rain, which has helped responders contain the wildfires (although there are still active fires remaining), and crews are actually getting to cut back on the resources needed to fight the fires in the national park.

Gatlinburg residents who have thus far only had limited access to their property will be able to return to full-time occupancy as of 7 a.m. Wednesday, and as of today (Tuesday), only 1,271 customers are still without power – which is a definite improvement compared to the 13,000 residents who were without power at the peak of the firestorm.

One of the most positive things to come of these events is the display of compassion that people from all over the region have shown for the communities of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, both of which were impacted by the fires. Donations of water, food and essential supplies were almost overwhelming, and people have opened their wallets wide to contribute to the dozens of agencies and organizations that solicited funds for the relief effort.

Perhaps most telling is the fact that so many people – even some who lost property themselves – have shown up to help out. We've seen folks sorting through donations, caring for displaced and lost pets, and assisting families who have been having to live in temporary shelters until they can make more permanent living arrangements.

One of the best pieces of news that's come out in the last couple of days is the announcement that downtown Gatlinburg will be accessible to the public beginning at 7 a.m. Friday. Some areas of downtown did receive significant damage, but overall, the area fared much better than authorities first suspected it would. Winterfest light displays are shining again; attractions, restaurants and shops are preparing to re-open; and downtown accommodations will again be opening their doors and their beds to out-of-town guests.

So if you've been wanting to help out Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge but haven't yet decided what you should do, here's a suggestion: Just visit. Right now, the people who make their living in the tourism industry have suffered a significant setback – even those whose property and livelihoods weren't impacted by the fires.

Come to the Smokies, if not this weekend, then next week or next weekend or the week after that. Go eat at the restaurants and do some Christmas shopping in the stores. Visit Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies or do some zip lining in Tennessee in the near future. If you can't stay overnight, at least come for the day. And if you have time, yes, also find out where your time and monetary resources could be most effectively put to use.

Of course, we'd love to see you at Smoky Mountain Ziplines this weekend, December 10 and 11. We expect to be open, although if you're anticipating a visit, it's probably a good idea to call us in advance to confirm our status and make your reservations. You can reach us at 865-429-9004.


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