Man livestreams harrowing escape from wildfire

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“We just got stuck, we’re turning around. There’s power lines and trees blocking the road. We cannot get out.”

Those are the first words viewers hear when they start watching a video uploaded to Facebook by Michael Luciano, who’s in a vehicle along with one other person as they roll over burned up branches and through sheets of smoke, trying to escape a raging fire that has scorched much of Gatlinburg, Tennessee, over the past 24 hours.

The video is apocalyptic. Spots of fire glow orange at the edge of the road. Cabins are engulfed in roiling flames. The sky, normally navy blue above the bare tops of the trees, glows red.  Read more…

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Drought-fueled wildfire ‘apocalypse’ hits Tennessee

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Strong winds fanned flames from a large wildfire in eastern Tennessee on Monday, damaging a large number of structures in picturesque Gatlinburg, and prompting widespread evacuations.

The Chimney Top Fire is part of a broader outbreak of blazes burning across the Southeast amid unusually mild and dry conditions during what will be one of the top 5 warmest years in U.S. history, and the hottest year globally. 

The high winds that hit on Monday, and are continuing in some areas on Tuesday, dramatically escalated the risk of unpredictable and extreme fire behavior. The fire’s advance on Gatlinburg and other areas caught thousands off-guard, according to the National Park Service.  Read more…

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