GATLINBURG, Tenn. (BNC) — The resort town of Gatlinburg in East Tennessee is burning, and much of the city may be lost. The city is under a mandatory evacuation order, as well as part of the neighboring city of Pigeon Forge.
Gatlinburg minister Rod Rutherford reported that all the saints are safe, but has no information about the building. Three families from the congregation may have lost their homes.
So far, no deaths have been reported, but one firefighter nearly lost his life when he became trapped.
Rod mentioned that the downtown area resembles a battle zone. Many businesses are damaged or destroyed.
Johnny Polk shared this email, source yet undetermined:
… 100 buildings [destroyed] in Gatlinburg, and all people evacuated; Pigeon Forge sustained some damage; the fires are not out, but the rain last night seems to have helped some. There will be more wind followed by rain tonight. Our brethren’s building in Pigeon Forge cannot be assessed, right now, but in a couple of days we’ll know more. The smoke, the request to stay off of cell phones, the on-going fires, and emergency use of roadways, all keep information in a slowdown. Televised reports showed TN Highway Patrolmen sawing trees, walking people to safety because of trees down, and some people having to drive through flames on both sides of the road.
UPDATE: Rod Rutherford sent this email later in the day:
A friend called a friend in the Gatlinburg fire department to ask about the church building. He was told that everything on Reagan Drive was destroyed, either burned down or badly damaged beyond use. This would include our church building. We plan to worship with the Sevierville church Sunday and then have a congregational meeting to discuss our future. Our building was fully insured. If anyone wants to help those who lost their homes, we ask them to send a contribution to the Gatlinburg church of Christ and mark it For Fire Relief. We will use it to help our members first and then others as funds permit. The address is: Gatlinburg church of Christ, P.O. Box 361, Gatlinburg, TN 37738. Thanks for your interest, prayers and concern.
Randal and his wife Vicki have lived and worked in Brazil since Nov. 1984. They have three children, two daughters-in-law, and five grandchildren. He likes to read novels in his back-porch hammock. http://randal.us