Spreading Like Wildfire

For the past few weeks large wildfires have scorched multiple mountainous towns in the South like Tennessee, North Carolina, and South Carolina. As I walked out of school I was surprised to encounter fog, or what I assumed was fog. I soon discovered that this fog-like substance was not simply fog, but smoke. Being from the west coast of Florida I am not too familiar with wildfires or the damaging effects they can have. I have realized that these fires can force many people to face a harsh reality.

Wildfires can have several different causes, but 90% are sparked by humans. From campfires and cigarettes left to burn out, to arson, our carelessness is to blame for the destruction that these fires can cause. Earlier this week North Carolina man, Keith Eugene Mann, was arrested for starting two of these massive wildfires. Investigators found a box with used matches on the site of the second fire. Mann can face up to 20 years in prison for his actions. He admitted to starting these fires with no clear purpose or reasoning.

Smoke from the fires directly impacted Asheville and its neighboring towns. Cities in Hendersonville County were forced to evacuate to a safe location. Even Greenville County Schools were concerned with the quality of the air for the students in the area. Luckily, the drought in the area ended this week with rain storms spread throughout the week.

Unfortunately, wildfires have raged more recently in Tennessee with even greater damaging effects. The fires blazed through the Great Smoky Mountains, leading to a massive evacuation of thousands of people. The fires destroyed around 150 buildings, injured around 15 people, and have even lead to fatalities. The death toll has raised to 7 people and continues to climb. Over 10,000 houses have been left without power, with about 14,000 people leaving Gatlinburg altogether. Rain Moore, a lieutenant on the Sneedville Fire Department stated, “It was like driving into hell.” Since fallen trees have blocked roads, transportation has become increasingly difficult. The mayor of Gatlinburg, Mike Werner, made an inspiring public statement about the future for the city after losing his home, “It’s a devastating time for us and for Gatlinburg. But, as I said earlier this morning, we’re strong, we’re resilient and we’re going to make it.”gatlinburgfiretnmgn