KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — After multiple days of intensive firefighting efforts, the wildfire that broke out in Wears Valley and burned nearly 4,000 acres is now 85% contained as of Friday afternoon.
The Wears Valley wildfire, officially referred to as the Hatcher Mountain-Indigo Lane fire, has burned 3,739 acres and is 85% contained as of 4 p.m. Friday.
At least 100 structures have been damaged or destroyed by the blaze since it broke out Wednesday but Sevier County Mayor Larry Waters said no fatalities or missing persons have been reported.
A second fire, identified as the Millstone Gap fire, is about 800 acres in size.
More than 200 fire personnel are working in the area to combat the wildfire and will continue to work on both fires overnight. Waters said Thursday that five firefighting vehicles were damaged as part of the fire.
One of six UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters deployed by the Tennessee National Guard to help bring more water to the area was forced to make an emergency landing around 11:25 a.m. Thursday due to an engine failure. No injuries to the four crew members were reported and the aircraft incurred minor damages.
These helicopters dropped water throughout the day on the fire. The airdrops have ended for Thursday and began again Friday morning.
Waters said evacuations will remain in place. Roughly 11,000 homes were evacuated as the fire continued to spread, though some residents have since been able to return to their homes.
Evacuations were ordered earlier for Hatcher Mountain, Shagbark, Little Valley Road, Black Bear Resort off of Lost Branch Road and anyone one-mile radius of Indigo Lane. The area along Wears Valley Road, including areas from Walden’s Creek Road to Wear Farm City Park and about a mile from the Pigeon Forge Parkway, were later added.
The city of Gatlinburg has rescinded a mandatory evacuation order for the Ownby Hills and Hidden Hill areas that was issued just before midnight. On Thursday, an evacuation was ordered for the Smoky Ridge Way area off of Wears Valley Road.
Sevier County Schools are closed Thursday and Friday out of an “abundance of caution” due to the wildfires affecting parts of the county.
MountainTough.org, a website created to assist victims of the 2016 Gatlinburg wildfires, has been reactivated. Waters said the site will be updated Thursday with more information on how to assist those affected or donate to first responders. Shelters have been set up for evacuees at the Pigeon Forge Community Center, and Seymour Heights Christian Church.
Officials said the cause of the fire has yet to be determined.
The fire broke out around 11 a.m. Wednesday amid critical fire weather conditions due to strong winds and low humidity levels that caused local officials to not issue any burn permits.
This is a developing story. Download the WATE 6 News app to get updates sent to your phone.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been updated.