As the state of Tennessee and surrounding areas continue to suffer from drought conditions, wildfires have continued to spread throughout the Great Smoky Mountain areas. Fires are now beginning to spread into areas surrounding Maryville College, including one that broke out this afternoon in Walland, Tenn.
According to Local 8 News, students of Walland Elementary School were sent home as of 1:30 p.m. due to a forest fire that broke out just behind the school. Faculty and staff are staying in the school until all students are either taken home on their regular buses or are picked up by their guardians.
Local 8 News also reported that the fire began around 12:49 near West Millers Cove Road. The fire is currently burning in the direction up the mountain and away from the school. Currently, one home is reported to be at risk by the fire, and the Blount County Fire Department and Tennessee Division of Forestry are working to preventively protect the home.
The exact size of the fire is currently unknown, but several images of the smoke have been posted to social media outlets in locations as far as 13 miles away in the Eagleton Village area of Maryville. Junior of Maryville College, Kathryn Norris, spotted smoke from the fire on her commute home from campus. Norris lives close to Heritage High school.
The currently drought in Tennessee is partially to blame for the recent outbreak of fires as Tennessee’s rainfall deficit continues to increase, with Knoxville reporting a deficit of 6.57 inches for the year during October according to the Knoxville News Sentinel. Other news channels have reported possible tips of individuals in different areas setting the fires both intentionally and unintentionally. Authorities are working hard to keep the fires under control, and residents in areas are taking precautions to protect their health as the air quality continues to be under alerts in areas affected by the smoke. Many Maryville College students have been seen on campus wearing masks as they walk to and from classes.
We will work hard to update readers on the current status of the fires both in Walland and surrounding areas and how they will affect the Maryville Community.