WEARS VALLEY, Tenn. (WATE) — The Tennessee Department of Agriculture has identified the cause of two Sevier County wildfires that damaged over 200 structures and burned nearly 2,500 acres.
An investigation by the Tennessee Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Crime Unit determined the two fires were started by downed powerlines and exacerbated by high winds.
“Based on the results of our origin and cause investigation, it was determined the two large wildland fires were caused by downed power lines. The high winds that took down the power lines to spark the fires also fueled the progression of the fires.”Agricultural Crime Unit Captain Greg Whitehead
Preliminary estimates by the Sevier County Emergency Management Agency puts the total cost of the fire damage to livable structures at $65 million.
The Hatcher Mountain/Indigo Lane fire that began on March 30 burned nearly 2,500 acres, impacted 219 structures and forced the evacuation of 11,000 homes before it was fully contained on April 5.
The Seymour fire, known as the Millstone Gap or Dupont Fire, started on March 31 and was 100 percent contained a week later.
ACU is the primary agency responsible for investigating of suspected wildland arson statewide and officers are specifically trained to investigate wildfires. ACU worked with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office, and the Pigeon Forge Police Department to determine the source of both fires.