Gatlinburg, Smoky Mountains reopen after fatal wildfires

Staff Writer
Stephenville Empire-Tribune

GATLINBURG, Tenn. (AP) — The Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the resort town of Gatlinburg, Tennessee, have reopened to the public after wildfires that caused 14 deaths and damaged about 2,500 buildings.

After officials moved barriers blocking the roadway at about 7 a.m. Friday, a steady stream of traffic could be seen heading into town, including cars and food delivery trucks.

Most of the main tourist area in Gatlinburg was spared by the fires that were whipped into the city by hurricane-force winds the night of Nov. 28, and officials are keen for people to return to the city with a population of less than 4,000 that draws more than 11 million visitors a year.

Prosecutors have charged two juveniles with starting fires within the park that later spread.