KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — With the dual threat of severe storms in the west and wildfires burning in the east, the State Emergency Operations Center is operational in Nashville with a State of Emergency in place, according to a flash report from the Tennessee Emergency Management System.

Tennessee is currently experiencing a statewide severe weather threat that is:

  • causing tornado watches and warnings to be issued in the western part of the state
  • making possible another round of severe weather impacts in the middle region
  • contributing to the creation and spread of wildfires in the east

TEMA has activated its four, regional coordination centers to assist officials with resource requests and any other needs where they need support with the severe weather or wildfires response.

Sevier County Wildfire

More than 1,000 acres have burned, 35 structures are destroyed, and 500 people have evacuated the Wears Valley, Walden’s Creek and Hatcher Mountain areas, the state said. A shelter was opened in Pigeon Forge. One injury has been reported.

The Tennessee National Guard has Blackhawk helicopters outfitted with Bambi buckets on standby to assist and is readying other aerial firefighting assets for deployment. The U.S. Forestry Service also has two helicopters at the scene to assist with aerial firefighting operations. However, current wind conditions have made it too hazardous to fly.

Representatives with Sevier County government, local fire departments, the Tennessee Division of Forestry, Tennessee Highway Patrol, National Park Service, and U.S. Forest Service are supporting the response directly in Sevier County from incident command.

Additionally, fire crews in Fentress County have contained three, separate woodland fires, and Anderson County fire officials reported they are nearing full containment of a 100-acre brush fire in Marlow and 50% containment of a fire in Andersonville.

Tennessee Severe Weather

Power outages statewide, as of 8 p.m. EDT, are 25,000 statewide, with 1,400 in Davidson County; 1,000 in Fayette; 1,800 in Henry; 990 in Knox; 1,300 in Lawrence; 13,800 in Madison; 100 in Maury; 900 in Sevier; and, 3,800 in Shelby.

Tornado Watches in place for West Tennessee until 8 p.m. CDT and for Nashville until 1 a.m. CDT with straight-line winds forecast for Middle Tennessee between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. CDT. The storm front will reach East Tennessee around 1 a.m. EDT with the most significant threat being wind gusts reaching 80-100 mph escalating an already dangerous fire situation.

Madison County emergency officials are reporting multiple structures damaged from the severe weather with impacts to the Sheriff’s Office, a 911 service outage, and damage to the Forest Cover Nursing Home.

Other Tennessee counties reporting storm impacts, to included downed trees, damaged structures, and flooded roads, include Chester, Crockett, Hardeman, Lauderdale, Montgomery, and Stewart.

The National Weather Service reports an outage for its NOAA Weather Radio service for Davidson County.