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Tennessee Wildfire Victims

Flickr / Creative Commons / Michael Hicks

Tennessee Wildfire Victims

Fourteen people have died due to the wildfires in the Great Smoky Mountain region of Tennessee, according to multiple news reports.

Officials announced the first three fatalities at a news conference Nov. 29, 2016. Gov. Bill Haslam said that “a lot of us have heavy hearts” and described the blaze as the largest in Tennessee in the last 100 years.

“It’s a little numbing to be honest with you to see the extent of the damage,” Haslam added at the time.

Searchers have been combing through the wreckage, hoping to find some of the missing alive. Not everyone was able to escape the blaze, and the death toll has continued to rise.

Among the dead were 34-year-old mother Constance Reed and her two daughters Chloe, 12, and Lily, 9. According to CNN, Michael Reed had received a panicked call from his wife the night of Nov. 28.  "She ... said there were flames across the street from the house. I told her to call 911," Reed said. He hurried home to discover the road on fire and houses engulfed in flames.

"I thought she'd be standing in the driveway," he said. Reed and his son spent the next few days waiting and hoping for good news that wouldn't come.

The wildfires have damaged hundreds of buildings around the eastern Tennessee resort towns of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge.

"People were basically running for their lives," Gatlinburg Mayor Mike Werner, said in describing the scene in the resort city.

The fires were powered by drought conditions and high winds with gusts over 80 miles per hour. Miller did say that the wind has calmed down and "the worst is definitely over with."

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