November 30th, 2016

Sevier County Wildfires

Posted at 3:49 PM ET

sevier_county_wildfires-sm2Wildfire activity has rendered severe impacts to areas of Sevier County, Tennessee including the Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge areas. The fire activity began late Sunday on Chimney Tops Mountain as a 10 acre fire that grew at an extreme rate Monday evening due to strong, gusty winds. Wind gusts well in excess of 60 mph carried embers a considerable distance to start new fires in extremely dry vegetation from recent drought. Gusty winds also brought trees down onto powerlines sparking new fires in surrounding dry vegetation.

At least 15,653 acres have been consumed by this activity. Recent rainfall both yesterday and today has supported containment efforts, but underlying dry fuels should continue to burn for some time. The fire is at 10 percent containment thanks to aggressive firefighting efforts, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. The fire is believed to be of human origin, according to the U.S. Forest Service, with the direct cause (intentional or not) still to be determined.


Wildfire hot spots data retrieved from multiple satellite platforms including AVHRR and VIIRS. Actual wildfire activity will include areas not depicted above. Ending 10:30 a.m. MDT, November 30.

Hazard data illustrated in the CAT-i map was taken from GC AdvantagePoint®, Guy Carpenter’s web-based risk management platform. GC AdvantagePoint users can view impacted areas on any map as well as see how their portfolios were affected. Please contact your broker or cat modeling analyst for further information.

The wildfires have caused significant impacts to Sevier County including the Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge areas, and pose an ongoing serious threat to life and property. Media reports indicate at least seven fatalities, along with initial reports of at least 400 structures damaged or destroyed, including at least one hotel. Nine structures were destroyed in Pigeon Forge, according to local authorities. At least 14,000 were forced to evacuate in areas of Sevier County, including the Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge areas. About 12,000 homes and businesses were without power in the area. Recent updates indicate that mandatory evacuations have been lifted for the Pigeon Forge area, and no new fire outbreaks have been reported. Reports to date indicate that the structures at Dollywood have not been affected, however the Westgate Smoky Mountain Resort and Spa has suffered severe to complete damage. Governor Bill Haslam said this event is Tennessee’s largest wildfire in 100 years, according to media reports.

Our first thoughts and concerns are with those lost and directly affected by this event.

Sources: Associated Press, Agence France Presse, National Weather Service, Tennessee Department of Emergency Management, The Weather Channel, Reuters

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Guy Carpenter publishes CAT-i reports for major natural catastrophes worldwide. These reports cover catastrophes including worldwide tropical cyclones, earthquakes, major UK and European floods and any other natural event that is likely to incur a significant loss to the (re)insurance industry. Please email if you wish to be added to the free email distribution list.

Guy Carpenter compiles RISK-i reports for major technological or man-made events worldwide. These reports cover risks to property, transport and life including explosions, fires, crashes, engineering disasters and terrorist attacks that are likely to incur a significant loss to the (re)insurance industry. Please email if you wish to be added to the free email distribution list.

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