GATLINBURG (WATE) – WATE 6 On Your Side has received thousands of heartbreaking 911 and dispatch recordings, as well as dash cam video and hundreds of documents, from Sevier County and Gatlinburg from the night of the deadly wildfires.
During many of the recordings earlier in the night, residents are asking about the location of the fires and whether they should evacuate. Many calls are transferred to other agencies. As the night wears on and the fires continue to rage, the topics of the calls shift to people desperately trying to make sure their loved ones are safe, reporting buildings that have caught on fire, and reporting that they need to be rescued.
Dispatch: “Okay, but there is no way you can get out safely? You can’t get in your vehicle and get out?”
Caller: “No! No, we cannot.”
Caller: “There are trees and wires down on both sides of us.”
Dispatch: “Okay. We’ll notify….”
Caller: “The fire is here! The fire is here!”
Dispatch: “Ma’am, we’ll notify the fire department and we will let them know your address, okay?”
Caller: “**** Wiley Oakley.”
Dispatch: “I’ve got it, **** Wiley Oakley Drive.”
Caller: “We are scared.”
Dispatch: “I understand ma’am and I’m sorry. We’ll get them up there to you as quickly as possible.”
< 911:Okay, so you don’t have any other way you can go to try to get out of there?
Caller: No, other than walk.
Caller: should we walk. Should we stay put until somebody comes and gets the tree so we can get out?
911: Honestly ma’am I have absolutely no idea how long it’s going to be before somebody can get up there.
Caller: Okay, well have the ecavuated everything up here?
911: Yeah, everything in the Gatlinburg area, everyone is being advised to leave
Caller: Okay well, see nobody told us anything until We started seeing flames over on the otherside of the mountain.
Caller: What do you want us to do, do you want us to sit still or do you want us to start walking?
911: All I can tell you at this point ma’am is use your own personal discretion on what you need to do. but I can tell you that I don’t know for sure exactly when somebody can get up there to you to clear that for you. >
During one such call, a resident tells dispatchers they tried to drive away from the fire, but ultimately their car burned up and they were now walking in the cold.
WATE 6 On Your Side is poring through the calls, video and hundreds of documents and will update this story as more information becomes available.