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Home Weather Extreme Pigeon Forge fire “shelter” no longer considered a shelter

Pigeon Forge fire “shelter” no longer considered a shelter

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PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (WVLT) – Dozens of Sevier County residents faced uncertainty Wednesday night as a raging wildfire came through the area.

Wednesday morning Sevier County’s residents received a message telling them to report to the Pigeon Forge Community Center after evacuating their homes, but around 11 p.m. that night, Sevier County EMA officials officially declassified the location as a “shelter.” Instead, officials began referring to the center as an “evacuation center.” That meant that people were no longer allowed to sleep at the location.

A trailer full of cots sat unopened at the community center, untouched and not laid out for people to sleep on. WVLT News’ Sam Luther spoke to a sheltering vacationer, who said if it weren’t for the kindness of strangers, he and his 20 family members would have spent the night in their van.

“Well thankfully a church has got us a hotel room located for the night,” Chris Clemmons said. “We were trying to stay here because the alert said it was a shelter, but when we got here they were saying ‘no.”

Clemmons spent lodging money on a cabin for the trip, which ended up in the evacuation zone. That meant there wasn’t any to spare for extra lodging. WVLT News spoke to Red Cross officials to try and get answers, but they said the decision was in the hands of Sevier County EMA.

Representatives with SCEMA were not able to give an answer as to why the shelter was no longer going to be housing people overnight. However, as the night progressed the evacuation zone expanded closer to Pigeon Forge and the community center.

Seymour Heights Christian Church is opening its doors to anyone displaced by the wildfires.

SHCC is located at 122 Boyd’s Creek Hwy.

Copyright 2022 WVLT. All rights reserved.

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