Above: Chimney Tops 2 Fire. Incident Management Team photo.
On Wednesday two juveniles were charged with aggravated arson for starting the Chimney Tops 2 Fire that burned into Gatlinburg, Tennessee. The fire resulted in the deaths of 14 people and damaged or destroyed 2,460 structures.
The juveniles were taken into custody after an investigation conducted by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, National Park Service, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office.
Due to laws regulating the handling of juveniles, very little was disclosed about the two individuals, except that they do not live in Sevier County but are residents of the state of Tennessee.
Steve Kloster, Chief Ranger of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, said the phone line established to gather information proved to be valuable.
The public was critical in responding to that tip line and giving the investigators something to work with. The tip line had about 40 tips within just a few minutes of going online.
The fire was reported November 23 in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. By November 27 it had grown to 35 acres while being monitored by the National Park Service. A cold front brought very strong winds into the area on November 28 which caused the fire to spread explosively north into Gatlinburg, destroying lives, homes, businesses, and eventually 17,006 acres.
Below is a video of the press conference announcing the arrest.
For the most current information about the Chimney Tops 2 Fire at Gatlinburg, see our articles tagged “Chimney 2 Fire”.