Rising From The Ashes

Jennie Abbott

Sunday, November 28th, 2021 marks five years since the devastating forest fires tore through the town of Gatlinburg. Strong winds of an incoming storm blew embers from Chimney Top, a nearby mountain. The rain had no fight against the growing strength of the flames. A local weather station reported temperatures of over 118 degrees with wind gusts as strong as 85mph, causing the continuous spread of the fire. 

In total, 17,900 acres were burned and 14 people died. According to Knoxville News Sentinel, the deadly fires were started by two teenage boys that dropped lit matches along one of the Chimney Top trails. Ages 15 and 17, the boys were charged in Sevier County Juvenile Court with arson, or the criminal act of deliberately setting fire to property. 

After just five years since the deadly and destructive forest fires, Gatlinburg forest continues to grow and recover. Animals that are currently thriving in the young forest include; bats, black bears, bobcats, coyotes, etc. Fire Cherry and Birch trees are replenishing the depleted forest. Although the ashes of the fires are reminders of the loss and tragedies, blooming from them is new life, restoring what was lost.