Report: Gatlinburg fire caused $7 million in damages
On Friday, Gatlinburg city officials released a report detailing the downtown fire on Oct. 9.
GATLINBURG, Tenn. (WVLT) - On Friday, Gatlinburg city officials released a report detailing the downtown fire on Oct. 9 that killed one person and injured another.
The report said the fire was an accident and caused around $7 million in damages.
On Oct. 9, a woman who was working at the Ripley’s Aquarium smelled smoke and walked up to 745 Parkway Suite 4 to investigate. She saw a fire and called 911.
Gatlinburg Fire Department crews responded to the scene and received help from Pigeon Forge Fire Department, Pigeon Forge Police Department, Sevierville Fire Department, Pittman Center Volunteer Fire Department, Sevier County Emergency Management Agency, Sevier County Medical Examiner’s Office and Sevier County Ambulance Services.
GFD officials examined the scene and found a body, later identified as Joe Martin Bates, in Suite 4. At this time, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation officials were contacted, according to the report.
The report stated the roof started to collapse, and the building was deemed too unsafe to work inside. The fire continued to spread throughout the entire structure.
Emergency crews were on the scene for 31 hours extinguishing the fire before the emergency demolition was requested.
The report stated the demolition was requested “due to the health and safety of the citizens and visitors in the event of a full structure collapse.”
During the investigation, fire officials interviewed a cleaner of Loco Burro who saw a person matching Bates’ description the morning of the fire.
The cleaner told officials he found Bates in the room where the fire started and had what appeared to be a warming fire going. He yelled at Bates to get out, and Bates did leave before coming back without the worker knowing.
Multiple businesses were destroyed in the flames, totaling an estimated $7 million in damage.
The report concluded that the fire was an accident; however, officials said the investigation was limited because the building was not structurally sound.
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