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Gov. Bill Lee tours fire damage in Sevier County

Gov. Lee and Sevier County Mayor Larry Waters are looking at rebuilding affected areas with the help of the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency.
Tennessee Governor Bill Lee will be in East Tennessee to tour fire damage Friday afternoon, according to his office.
Published: Apr. 8, 2022 at 10:12 AM EDT|Updated: Apr. 8, 2022 at 5:35 PM EDT
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Live: Sevier County Wildfire Update

Governor Lee is speaking after touring the damage caused by the fires in Sevier County last week.

Posted by WVLT on Friday, April 8, 2022

SEVIER COUNTY, Tenn. (WVLT) - Tennessee Governor Bill Lee will be in East Tennessee to tour fire damage Friday afternoon, according to his office.

While both Hatcher Mountain and Millstone Gap Fires are now 100% contained, Gov. Lee and Sevier County Mayor Larry Waters are looking at rebuilding affected areas with the help of the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency.

To do so, Gov. Lee and Mayor Waters plan to tour areas damaged around 2:50 p.m. after last week’s raging wildfires scorched thousands of acres. Afterward, officials in the county will send off a damage report to the state no later than Friday.

County officials hope that federal money through grants will be available after the damage report is sent. They also hope the fires would be declared a disaster, which would make more federal funding available.

Sevier County Vice Mayor Bryan McCarter told WVLT News that the people who lost their primary homes would be the most likely recipients of federal funds if given.

The Hatcher Mountain Fire affected 219 structures and spanned 2,498 acres, and the Millstone Gap Fire affected two structures and involved just shy of 1,000 acres. Thursday, from his office in the county courthouse, County Mayor Larry Waters was beginning to reflect on the past week, saying how glad he was that there were no fatalities.

“Thankful that no lives were lost, that was something that we were concerned about starting Wednesday,” said Waters.

After the devastation of the 2016 Gatlinburg Wildfires, Mayor Waters said officials had made changes to save lives, such as Sevier County Sheriff’s Office deputies knocking on doors to evacuate people to sending IPaws alerts to cell phones. He also boasted about the quick reaction of more than 80 agencies who came together to get the fire controlled in the early hours.

Gov. Lee will also be at the Knoxville Chamber lunch at 12:00 p.m. at The Foundry near World’s Fair Park. Afterward, he will visit the Roane County 225 Event in Harriman at 5:00 p.m.

Hatcher Mountain Fire Aftermath

This is the aftermath of the Hatcher Mountain Fire, which affected over 300 structures, including the Von Bryan Estate shown in the video. Several firetrucks and other homes on the mountain were also destroyed.

Posted by WVLT on Sunday, April 3, 2022

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