A Gatlinburg, Tenn. wildfire has claimed the life of four people, destroyed more than 100 homes and has led to the evacuation of 14,000 people.
Charles Alcorn, of Dayton, said he visits Gatlinburg about 10-15 times a year. He started going to Gatlinburg as a child with his grandparents, before purchasing his family’s downtown townhome in 2008.
“We don’t know exactly because they aren’t letting people in or out, but I’ve seen pictures … a big portion of our property is burned down,” Alcorn said. “It’s going to be a long tough process.”
Alcorn said he’s invested in other properties down there, and relies heavily on the rental income.
“It’s a big portion of my business,” he said.
Alcorn said the moment authorities start letting people back into Gatlinburg he will be heading down.
“It’s terrible news,” Alcorn said. “For childhood memories, but also income.”
Alcorn said he’s president of his homeowner association, which will experience a “substantial loss” of millions of dollars.
Miamisburg resident Sharon Colston was recently in Gatlinburg area and witnessed the early stages of the wildfire.
“We could see where the smoke was coming from the area they call the Chimneys,” she said. “We just saw smoke from there and then we kept going through the mountains and on our way back down it was dark. We could see the Chimneys embers burning. It wasn’t necessarily flames coming up, but you could see the embers of the fire.
There are reports of at least 14 injuries. Gatlinburg Fire Chief Greg Miller said most of the injuries are non-life-threatening.