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Heartbreak and Sadness in the Smokies. Local Responders Answer the Call

fire1By DALE GRAHAM
Many, if not most of us here in this part of the world have a long list of happy memories that were made in and around Sevier County, TN. Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge have been home to family vacations, quiet getaways, Dollywood trips, weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, sports tournaments, everything you can come up with. It was with great sadness this week that we all watched as the fires spread across the mountains, destroying trees, homes, businesses, habitats.

The one positive has been the response of emergency services all over the state, including from Cheatham County. Cheatham County Emergency Management Services (Ambulance), tanker truck, staff, and ambulance, and director who is a certified death investigator (Danny Schaeffer assisting in death investigations) all answered the call to help. Also the Pleasant View Volunteer Fire Department, Ashland City Fire Department, and so many others helping our neighbors in East Tennessee.

Nathan Vetitoe, a former Captain from KSFD, has been deployed to Gatlinburg with the Franklin fire department.

There are many ways to help those in the fire zone with your donations. The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee has established an emergency fund in response to the East Tennessee wildfires, http://www.cfmt.org/

The Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and Sevierville Emergency Response Fund will support the affected communities and nonprofits that are helping victims address their ongoing needs. Grants from the Fund will be made to nonprofits providing assistance both immediate and long term. There are also several GoFundMe accounts set up.

As of Wednesday morning the fires were coming under control, aided in part by some much needed rain. But the scars will remain for a long time, as the National Park Service said the wildfire spanned more than 15,000 acres in the park and the Gatlinburg area. In those acres were homes and businesses, many of which were totally destroyed. 3 lives were lost and more were missing at press time.

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