Prayer for Those in the Path of Wildfires in Smoky Mountains
A fast-moving wildfire in the area of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge in the Great Smoky Mountains grew rapidly last night as winds whipped a somewhat manageable set of brush fires into raging forest fires.
Many guests of the popular tourist destination were forced from their rooms due to the approaching flames. Residents of Gatlinburg and adjoining towns of Pigeon Forge and Sevierville also took precautions or evacuated as fires were encroaching on homes and businesses.
According to reports, hundreds of structures have been damaged and many families evacuated. There have also been reports of injuries and at least 3 confirmed fatalities.
We have been in contact with leaders at the nearby Church of God Smoky Mountain Children’s Home in Sevierville. In a statement from Dr. Walt Mauldin, director of the Smoky Mountain Children’s Home, he said, “We are praising the Lord this morning that the children, youth, and staff here at the Smoky Mountain Children’s Home are all safe! The forest fires were approximately six miles away from the campus, but we did experience some very high winds and dense smoke throughout the day on Monday. Thank the Lord for the blessing of rain that abated most of the flames late last night. Three of our staff members were forced to evacuate their homes but found them with no damages this morning. We want to thank everyone for your concern and prayers."
Reports on the status of local churches and homes of members in the area are still being assessed. According to Pastor Phillip Morris of the Parkway Church of God, they have at least four families who may have lost homes. Authorities are allowing only limited access to the affected areas.
Operation Compassion has established disaster relief sites at the Seymour Church of God, the Purpose Church of God in Pigeon Forge and the New Hope Church in Sevierville.
Supplies are being sent from a number of local and regional partners including the Knoxville Dream Center, Transition Furniture, and Steps for Families as well as Crystal Springs Water. Blankets, food, bottled water, snacks, chips, cookies, MRE’s and other necessary products are being procured and will be delivered as needed throughout this emergency.
Operation Compassion is working closely with the local fire department, sheriff’s department, local city police departments, Mayor’s offices, and other agencies to help coordinate response to this disaster.
Please continue to keep the residents of the Great Smoky Mountains in your prayers. We will update the situation as warranted.