PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (WATE) — Fire, emergency and utilities crews worked overnight in Sevier County as wildfires burned in the area and storms moved in across the region. A wildfire in the Wears Valley community continues to burn early Thursday after beginning Wednesday afternoon. Mandatory evacuations in the area also remain in place.
The Hatcher Mountain-Indigo Lane wildfire has reportedly grown to at least 3,700 acres in size and was 5% contained as of Thursday morning and at least 100 structures were impacted. At least one person was reported injured and taken to UT Medical Center in Knoxville.
Two firefighters were also injured in their fight against the wildfire while taking a stand on the mountain to protect a structure.
Emergency officials from at least 70 agencies were assisting in the wildland firefight in Sevier County. The cause of the fire was unknown at this time, according to Sevier County Mayor Larry Waters.
Earlier Thursday morning, emergency officials extended the evacuation zone near the Wears Valley wildfire location. Sevier County Schools, Blount County Schools and Campbell County Schools are closed Thursday out of abundance of caution.
The Knoxville Fire Department said Thursday they still have crews deployed in Sevier County and were also responding for mutual aid to Seymour.
The Tennessee National Guard is providing six UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters to support the wildfire response near Pigeon Forge, the agency said Thursday.
Around 8 a.m. Thursday, the first two Blackhawk helicopters departed from McGhee Tyson Air National Guard Base with Bambi Buckets used to provide hundreds of gallons of water to fight wildfires.
“Each aircraft will make multiple trips. The Blackhawks will pick up water from nearby water sources and transport it directly to the needed area. Two more Blackhawks crews are scheduled to depart at 10 a.m. and two more crews at noon. Crewmembers with Detachment 1, Company C, 1- 171st Aviation Regiment, based in Knoxville, were alerted and began preparations on March 30.”
Around 1:30 a.m. Thursday the Sevier County Emergency Management Agency issued a mandatory evacuation for the Dupont area from South Rogers Road to the Blount-Sevier County line. Earlier Wednesday evening 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 added.
For those evacuating, a shelter has been established at Pigeon Forge Community Center, 170 Community Center Drive.
Power outages from high winds as storms moved across the region were also reported overnight and early Thursday morning. KUB, LCUB and Sevier County Electrical System were reporting outages in the thousands.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been updated to reflect current conditions reported by team coverage and emergency officials.