GATLINBURG (AP) — A Tennessee mayor says three more bodies have been recovered after the wildfires in the Great Smoky Mountains, bringing the death toll to seven.
Sevier County Mayor Larry Waters said Wednesday that officials believe more than 400 buildings have been damaged in the county. He also noted that three people who were trapped after the wildfires Monday night have been rescued. He did not go into details about the rescue, and said authorities have not positively identified the dead.
He says search-and-rescue missions are ongoing.
The fire destroyed at least 150 buildings, including iconic homes and a resort. Other buildings and attractions remained largely intact, including the Dollywood amusement park in nearby Pigeon Forge.
Wildfires have been burning for several weeks across the drought-stricken South. But Monday marked the first time homes and businesses were destroyed on a large scale.
Heavy rain fell early Wednesday, which is helping put out some of the wildfires, but officials say more than 200 firefighters are still out battling flames and hotspots.
During wildfires Monday night, many buildings in the tourist town were burned to their foundation. Hotel fire alarms eerily echoed through empty streets lined with burned out cars Tuesday evening.
Gatlinburg, a city that opens up to 11 million visitors annually, is facing a new reality. But Mayor Mike Werner, who lost his home, says his town will pull together and recover.