Rising from the Ashes

The Chimney Tops 2 Wildfires Oral History Project

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Subject
Narrator Role
Place
Language
Interview with Adesola Odunayo, 2020-04-23
Interview with Adesola Odunayo, 2020-04-23

Interview with Adesola Odunayo, clinical associate professor with the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine. Odunayo discusses the challenges of treating animals that were harmed during the wildfires. She also recounts seeing families reunited with their pets and the emotional impact of the experience. Conducted over Zoom due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a representative quote from the interview: The local thing we did was using hyperbaric oxygen, which is a treatment where an animal is put into an oxygen chamber usually for an hour. And the whole goal of that is to try to just increase oxygen delivery to the wound and in theory that should kind of help accelerate healing of the wound in the tissues in the areas.

Interview with Alan Sheets, 2019-11-09
Interview with Alan Sheets, 2019-11-09

Interview with Alan Sheets, an emergency responder with the American Red Cross. Sheets details the process of establishing a relief shelter during a crisis. He discusses the challenges posed by the fire in terms of how many were impacted and the initial chaos that needed to be addressed. He also praises the community for its ability to come together during this time with necessary donations and services. This is a representative quote from the interview: "I knew right away we weren't gonna have problems with people wanting to help. Because this is their community and this area has always been that kind of community that sticks together."

Interview with Andrea Ludden, 2017-02-06
Interview with Andrea Ludden, 2017-02-06

Interview with Andrea Ludden, administrator of the Salt & Pepper Museum and Gatlinburg resident. Ludden discusses the the time prior to leaving her home, the evacuation experience, and the return to Gatlinburg to assess damages. Ludden recalls the community efforts that brought people together after the Chimney Tops II Wildfires. This is a representative quote from the interview: "After this, I didn't realize how connected we were in the community."

Interview with Andy Miller, 2020-04-23
Interview with Andy Miller, 2020-04-23

Interview with Andrew Miller, professor with the School of Integrative Biology at the University of Illinois. Miller discusses the impact that the fire had upon the fungi of the Smoky Mountains and how the various species are recovering. He also elaborates on the role that fungi play in the forest, both in terms of nutrients in the soil and interacting with other organisms. Conducted over Zoom due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a representative quote from the interview: this was a black morel that we found in a severely burned area. And it came up and bodies there. We'd never found it in the park before, ever, probably because no one's look for it after a fire, and it came up all over the place. And we went back again in 2018, a year later, and never found one fruiting body ever. So it was one of those that just fruited once after the fire and then it was done.

Interview with Ann Fairhurst, 2019-12-12
Interview with Ann Fairhurst, 2019-12-12

Interview with Ann Fairhurst, professor with the Retail, Hospitality, and Tourism Management department at UT. Fairhurst discusses the prior planning that businesses had for emergencies before the fire. She also elaborates on the effects the fire had on businesses in Gatlinburg both in terms of dealing with insurance and regaining regular tourism patronage. This is a representative quote from the interview: "It was very gratifying to hear that their short term response always had to do with their employees. Even the ones that weren't in the business on the day of the wildfire."

Interview with Ann Phillips, 2017-01-27
Interview with Ann Phillips, 2017-01-27

Interview with Ann Phillips, resident of Windy Oaks in Gatlinburg. Phillips reads a prepared account of her experiences and those of friends. After, she goes into greater depth about the events that friends Sally and Mike West went through. The audio cuts out before the interview concludes. This is a representative quote from the interview: "From now on my life in Gatlinburg will be before the fire and after the fire."

Interview with Anne May, 2020-01-11
Interview with Anne May, 2020-01-11

Interview with Anne May of Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts. May provides a background for the school before discussing the events of the fire. She recounts helping the artists in residence to evacuate from the campus before evacuating from the town herself. She then tells about the community involvement Arrowmont had in Gatlinburg during the recovery period. This is a representative quote from the interview: "There were people out there that their interest was knowing that in order for Gatlinburg to come back, people were gonna have to be very purposeful in how they contributed to that effort."

Interview with Anne Smith, 2020-06-11
Interview with Anne Smith, 2020-06-11

Interview with Anne Smith, Department of Management and Entrepreneurship with the University of Tennesse, conducted by Ken Wise. Smith reviews the report composed by the National Park Service after the wildfires and the structural challenges faced by organizations in a disaster. Conducted over Zoom due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a representative quote from the interview: We always used to see a few rules broken, but the issues are not broken. That time is not the first time these rules have been broken over time. So the worst thing that can happen is somebody is going to come in and they're going to have a whole other slate of rules and all that, and that's not what it needs to have happen. What needs to happen is the learning from it.

Interview with Becky Jackson, 2019-11-09
Interview with Becky Jackson, 2019-11-09

Interview with Becky Jackson, former resident of Gatlinburg. Jackson recounts the difficulty of the fire with family members all separated and trying to reunite. She also discusses the difficulties faced in losing her home and then going through a divorce. The role played by the community and family members to alleviate the loss are also described. This is a representative quote from the interview: "My first instinct wasn't my home or anything. It was more about how are people gettting out of there that don't know the roads like we do, that are there on vacation?

Interview with Bill Black, 2017-02-15
Interview with Bill Black, 2017-02-15

Interview with William (Bill) Black, director of Smoky Mountain Resort Ministries of Sevier County, TN. Black recounts the day of the fire and his efforts to evacuate his home. Black also discusses his efforts in the community during and after the fire. This is a representative quote from the interview: "We're closer together then we've ever been. The fire has set us free to see each other and relate."

Interview with Bill May, 2017-02-20
Interview with Bill May, 2017-02-20

Interview with William (Bill) May, executive director of Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts. May describes his actions the day the fires reached the school. May also discusses the aftermath and the extent of damages to Arrowmont. This is a representative quote from the interview: "Ultimately I ended up not taking anything, because where do you start with a thousand object collection, historical works, and a library filled with 10,000 volumes. Where do you start?"

Interview with Bill May, 2019-10-14
Interview with Bill May, 2019-10-14

Interview with Bill May, executive director for Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts. May gives an overview of the history of Gatlinburg and particularly how Arrowmont has been involved in the region since its founding. He recounts the day of the fire in regards to the suddeness of the disaster and his efforts at the school. He also discusses the community activity centered at Arrowmont during following the wildfire. This is a representative quote from the interview: "That will always color my impression of the fires. It happened to people, and it happened to people regardless of station, regardless of financial circumstances."

Interview with Bill Vanak, 2017-10-23
Interview with Bill Vanak, 2017-10-23

Interview with William (Bill) Vanak, resident of Gatlinburg. Vanak discusses the day of the fire as he was surveying downtown. Vanak also goes into detail about observing the fire that night and the following days. This is a representative quote from the interview: "The building on the right which housed those rental cars and the Nappa Auto Parts store, actually exploded in front of me."

Interview with Bill and Diana Hale, 2017-02-08
Interview with Bill and Diana Hale, 2017-02-08

Interview with William and Diana Hale, residents of Gatlinburg. The Hales discuss the night of their evacuation and how close the fire got to their house. They also talk about the severity of the damage done to their neighborhood. This is a representative quote from the interview: "The fire had burned up so close that if you had picked the house up, you could've seen the outline in the fire."

Interview with Billy Henriquez, 2021-03-11
Interview with Billy Henriquez, 2021-03-11

In this interview Billy Henriquez, a Honduran immigrant and Gatlinburg resident since 2008, tells the story of his family’s experience with the Chimney Tops wildfires that burned down his home. Billy talks about the shock that ensued after realizing his family no longer had a home to come back to, and the displacement of the Hispanic community that forced many to leave Tennessee. Billy describes the surprising good that came out of the incident which made him and other Hispanic residents feel like they were seen as actual members of the community. This is a representative quote from the interview: "most of the people that helped me, I didn't know them. And that's something I will never forget, that, genuine affection that they had for us, that despite us being foreigners, they acknowledged us as a part, of their community."

Interview with Bob Sweeney, 2020-03-14
Interview with Bob Sweeney, 2020-03-14

Interview with Bob Sweeney, resident of Gatlinburg. Sweeney describes the fire as a someone who recently moved to the area before suffering losses. He recounts the following days and months in terms of the lessons he learned from the wildfire and the opportunities that it provided. This is a representative quote from the interview: We look over and there's a a flower pot with some pansies still planted in it that was untouched. And there were a few items like that just scattered around, a bench over here that didn't burn. And I think we went over and we kind of talked about how funny that was. And we were just kind of skirting around the fact that there wasn't any house there, and all of that I guess. You just kind of push yourself over into a safer place for a minute.

Interview with Bob Waikel, 2017-02-16
Interview with Bob Waikel, 2017-02-16

Interview with Robert (Bob) Waikel, president of Ski Mountain Chalet Rentals, Inc. Waikel discusses the circumstances he faced in dealing with the fire while having a wife suffering from Alzheimer's disease. Waikel recounts not only his evacuation and return, but also the effects seen on the tourism industry. This is a representative quote from the interview: "One of the biggest projects is trying to remember all the personal items you have accumulated over 79 years. You sit down in a room and you go around the room and you try to remember what you had."

Interview with Brandon Matheny, 2019-11-07
Interview with Brandon Matheny, 2019-11-07

Interview with Brandon Matheny, professor with the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology department of UT. Matheny discusses the effects of the fire upon fungi of the reason, particularly how it allows certain species to fruit and spread. He also touches upon the effects that climate change is having upon the region. This is a representative quote from the interview: "I was seeing some of the same fungi in this burn here in the Southeast as I had seen out west and read about being reported in Europe."

Interview with Brian Papworth, 2017-02-13
Interview with Brian Papworth, 2017-02-13

Interview with Brian Papworth, business owner in Gatlinburg. Papworth discusses how calm the day of the fire was before the winds picked up and caused the rapid spread of the fire. Papworth also recounts the scene of Gatlinburg in the following days and the efforts of him and his wife at the community center. This is a representative quote from the interview: "There was no emergency type of feeling. There was no dramatic, "Oh my God, we gotta get out of here" situation.

Interview with Buddy McLean, 2020-09-10
Interview with Buddy McLean, 2020-09-10

Interview with Buddy McLean, owner of Buckberry Lodge in Gatlinburg, conducted by Casey Kaufman. McLean provides a background for the lodge in Gatlinburg before discussing the 2016 wildfires. He recounts the destruction of the lodge as well as the decision to rebuild. He also describes the short and long term effects that the fires had on the community. Conducted over Zoom due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a representative quote from the interview: "Everything that burned up there, burned straight up, but the mountains are still there and the beauty is still there. And I believe that very much still today."

Interview with Cara Parker, 2019-12-12
Interview with Cara Parker, 2019-12-12

Interview with Cara Parker, social worker with the Helen Ross McNabb Center in Sevierville. Parker discusses the ways in the which the agency provided assistance to survivors of the fires, as well as elaborating on some common problems that these individuals and families faced. She also talks about how different facets of the community were brought together in addressing these needs. This is a representative quote from the interview: "The biggest way, from a mental health center perspective, is the decreased stigma for seeking mental health treatment."

Interview with Carey Woods, 2020-01-11
Interview with Carey Woods, 2020-01-11

Interview with Carey Woods, principle of Pi Beta Phi Elementary School during the wildfire. Woods recounts the time leading up to the fire and the decisions she made for students' safety. She also recounts the evacuation of the school to Rocky Top Sports World in response to the severity of the smoke and the difficulties faced in the following months with relocating students and faculty to different schools. This is a representative quote from the interview: "My concern was, how many of my students have just lost everything? How many of my students are alive and are not alive, and their families?"

Interview with Carol Myers, 2020-01-11
Interview with Carol Myers, 2020-01-11

Interview with Carol Myers of Pi Beta Phi Elementary School. Myers discusses the morning of the fire with regards to the feelings inside the school among faculty and students. She also talks about the challenges faced by her husband an officer with the Gatlinburg Police Department; as well as the difficulties shared by students during the fire and after. This is a representative quote from the interview: "[The fire] would leave buildings perfectly fine, standing, but the building next to it would be burned to the ground. Something would be singed, but something else would be burned."

Interview with Charlie Anderson, 2020-05-15
Interview with Charlie Anderson, 2020-05-15

Interview with Charlie Anderson, owner of Tree Tops Resort in Gatlinburg, conducted by Casey Kaufman. Anderson discusses being in the hospitality business in Gatlinburg, and the effects of the wildfires on the resort. He also talks about the efforts to search for possible victims and the troubles faced during reconstruction. Conducted over Zoom due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a representative quote from the interview: "Finally, we were able to get back on the property on Friday, and when we first arrived at the property, it's very difficult to tell you my emotions, my thoughts, and everything because this was my baby. I had birthed it, and to see the destruction was probably one of the worst war scenes I've probably have ever seen."

Interview with Charlie Cole, 2020-10-26
Interview with Charlie Cole, 2020-10-26

Interview with Charlie Cole, fire chief fo the city of Gatlinburg. Cole discusses the time leading up to the fire along with the conditions that led to so much devastation. He also recounts the night of the wildfires in terms of the fire department's logistics and operations to combat the disaster. This is a representative quote from the interview: "We switched to an evacuation rescue mode to where the police and the fire, all the first responders, all the additional resources switched over to an evacuation and rescue mode. We actually, the numbers say, that we evacuated 14,000, approximately, people in Gatlinburg surrounding area of the county and Gatlinburg area that night."

Interview with Charly McCoig, 2017-02-24
Interview with Charly McCoig, 2017-02-24

Interview with Charly McCoig, resident of Seviereville, Tennessee. McCoig discusses the day of the fire and her direct attempts at fighting the fire. She also provides information about relief efforts and her time spent volunteering immediately after the fire as well as helping families to sift through ashes to find what personal items survived. This is a representative quote from the interview: "You can buy new clothes, you can buy new furniture, stuff like that, but it's the decades, the generations of memories that we have at places. . .that burned."

Interview with Christian David Rivera, 2021-02-03
Interview with Christian David Rivera, 2021-02-03

Interview with Christian David Rivera, member of the Rising from the Ashes team, conducted by Casey Kaufman. Rivera shares his family experiences of the wildfires, including his father who was unable to leave work for three days following the fires. He also discusses the difficulties faced by the Latinx community in Gatlinburg following the wildfires. This is a representative quote from the interview: "The Hispanic community in particular was not just freely going out and asking for help, unless it was given to them. But eventually, I think the community realized what was happening, and so I did notice on social media, such as Facebook, there would be a few places that were giving out help, sending out messages saying, you know, come get help. We're not gonna ask for I.D. or documentation or any of that."

Interview with Cindy Ogle, 2020-02-20
Interview with Cindy Ogle, 2020-02-20

Interview with Cindy Ogle, City Manager of Gatlinburg during the wildfire. Ogle discusses the challenges of serving in an official capacity to combat the fires while also balancing personal concerns. She also recounts the city and community efforts to recover following the destruction. This is a representative quote from the interview: "We have moved on. We have moved through this together, and moved to the other side. We knew that we could. We knew that it would take a while."

Interview with Connie and Ron Miller, 2017-03-24
Interview with Connie and Ron Miller, 2017-03-24

Interview with Connie and Ron Miller, part-time residents of Gatlinburg. The Millers discuss the day leading up to the fire and their evacuation. They go into detail about the chaotic nature of navigating the roads during the ordeal and the difficulty in obtaining any information concerning the disaster. This is a representative quote from the interview: "We get down to the parkway and it's abandoned, everybody's gone. And from what I hear on television and other sources, they told everybody at 2 o'clock to get out."

Interview with Coty Weaver, 2017-02-23
Interview with Coty Weaver, 2017-02-23

Interview with Coty Weaver, business owner in Gatlinburg. Weaver recounts the day leading up to the fire and his experiences during it. He discusses the community's feelings and general atmoshpere during the time period following the fire. This is a representative quote from the interview: "You gotta be a light. People are gonna be looking at you, those who lost everything, if you can be happy about it and help others, that's gonna spread."

Interview with Daniel Rickleff, 2017-02-13
Interview with Daniel Rickleff, 2017-02-13

Interview with Daniel Rickleff, resident of Gatlinburg. Rickleff had recently returned after the holiday weekend and had no knowledge of the fire. He recounts the ordeal of getting out of his mountain subdivision and to safely evacuate Gatlinburg. This is a representative quote from the interview: "I just remember the heat. It was so hot that my clothes and my skin felt restricting on my body."

Interview with Danny Wilson, 2022-01-13
Interview with Danny Wilson, 2022-01-13

Interview with Danny Wilson, local artist who grew up in East Tennessee, conducted by Casey Kaufman. Wilson dicusses his experiences in Gatlinburg and what impact it had on his art career growing up. He explains how the wildfires have influenced some of his recent artwork. Conducted over Zoom due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a representative quote from the interview: "As a person who wanted to grow up and make a living doing that, it was pretty captivating to me to watch the different ways people were making money with their art. So, I think to me that was the one thing that stood out about Gatlinburg that was different."

Interview with David Dotson, Jeff Conyers, and Sam Roberts, 2020-09-22
Interview with David Dotson, Jeff Conyers, and Sam Roberts, 2020-09-22

Interview with Jeff Conyers, David Dotson, and Sam Roberts with the Dollywood Foundation, conducted by Margie Nichols. The three discuss their personal accounts from the wildfires before detailing the aid provided by the foundation to survivors of the disaster. They recount the efforts to orgainize the aid in such a rapid response as well as the decision making behind the unconditional cash tranfers. This is a representative quote from the interview: We were scrambling to figure out how to execute a pretty complicated set up and delivery model and lots of moving pieces so that we could be successful for people who needed us.

Interview with Dianne Britton, 2020-01-10
Interview with Dianne Britton, 2020-01-10

Interview with Dianne Britton, volunteer with the Red Cross. Britton discusses her role with the Red Cross in connecting survivors with mental health resources. She also recounts some of the general feelings and mood found in the shelters, and compares this disaster to others that she has experienced. This is a representative quote from the interview: "You can't make this kind of thing better. There's nothing you can do to fix it or make it better. To me, the only thing you can do, is not make it worse."

Interview with Dick McHugh, 2017-02-07
Interview with Dick McHugh, 2017-02-07

Interview with Richard McHugh, resident of Gatlinburg. McHugh discusses the night of the fire and opening his home to his wife's family as well as two rescued cats. He also recounts the effects of the fire on the city afterwards in regards to the loss of local businesses. This is a representative quote from the interview: "I'm very proud of the way our people handled this at the community center, at Rocky Top, and everywhere else."

Interview with Ed and Dianne Henson, 2017-06-06
Interview with Ed and Dianne Henson, 2017-06-06

Interview with Ed and Dianne Henson, residents of Gatlinburg. The Hensons recount the night of the fire in which they were trapped on a side road amidst the flames. They also discuss the tragedy of losing their house to the wildfire. This is a representative quote from the interview: "I looked up the mountain and I saw the house full of flames."

Interview with Eddie Rupart, 2017-05-26
Interview with Eddie Rupart, 2017-05-26

Interview with Eddie Rupard, resident of Gatlinburg. Rupard discusses the day of the fire and the revelation of finding the fire had already spread to immediate proximity of his house. After evacuating, he recounts the following weeks of staying with family before officials opened the city back up. This is a representative quote from the interview: "The fire was burning downhill because everything was so dry."

Interview with Emily Collett, 2017-01-27
Interview with Emily Collett, 2017-01-27

Interview with Emily Collett, resident of Gatlinburg. Collett discusses the initial warning she received on the day of the fire and her evacuation to a friend's house. Subsequently she was forced to evacuate from there before finding shelter at Rocky Top Sports Park. This is a representative quote from the interview: "I hear the biggest crack. It sounded like a whole building fell down. Well it wasn't a building, but after I blink, of course because of the crack, I see on top of my car, a huge limb."

Interview with Emily Schubert, 2020-07-09
Interview with Emily Schubert, 2020-07-09

Interview with Emily Schubert, former artist in residence at Arrowmont, conducted by Casey Kaufman. Schubert discusses her role at Arrowmont before recounting the events of the wildfires. She also details how the event has affected her and her art over the long term. Conducted over Zoom due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a representative quote from the interview: "I also remember passing like a bunch of just demolished cars. There were a bunch of wrecks because people were rushing so fast. And I remember passing this one like silver sports vehicle and thinking there is no way that the person that was in that car is not hurt because it was just completely--I've never seen a car look at that after a wreck. And you can tell that all the airbags went off, and it caught fire and it was horrible, and it was just like pushed to the side of the road."

Interview with Erik Dobell, 2020-02-22
Interview with Erik Dobell, 2020-02-22

Interview with Eric Dobell, an entertainer and resident of Gatlinburg. Dobell recounts his short time in Gatlinburg before the wildfire before discussing the day of the fire itself. He talks about his evacuation efforts in a town where he had few personal ties in the community and about changes he has seen in the city following the disaster. This is a representative quote from the interview: "And for the first year or two, even when there'd be fog, because sometimes the fog--and you get a lot of fog around here--the fog with the lights, would look similar to what it looked like that day and that would freak me out."

Interview with Flo and Liz Puhala, 2017-02-18
Interview with Flo and Liz Puhala, 2017-02-18

Interview with Florian and Liz Puhala, business owners in Gatlinburg. The Puhalas discuss the days before the fire and their evacuation hours before their home burned. They also recount the generosity found in the community during the months following the disaster. This is a representative quote from the interview: "Your mind just can't conceive that this is the last time your gonna see [your home]."

Interview with Fran Day, 2017-03-31
Interview with Fran Day, 2017-03-31

Interview with Fran Day, staff at the Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts. Day recounts the day of the fire and her evacuation from her home. She also discusses some events surrounding the Arrowmont Schoold during the disaster and time following. This is a representative quote from the interview: "Through December 23rd we would offer lunches at Arrowmont, free of charge to anybody who wanted to come and have luch. So every day we had about 100 people."

Interview with Fran Day, 2020-01-11
Interview with Fran Day, 2020-01-11

Interview with Fran Day of Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts. Day provides a history of the school in the area and its role in the community. She then discusses her experience leading up to and during the fire. She also talks about how Arrowmont was active in the community following the wildfires. This is a representative quote from the interview: "There's some tenets in our culture: you never take without giving back, you have a certain responsibility to your neighbor, you don't whine, you don't what you can when you can, and you just deal with whatever comes."

Interview with Frances Fox Shambaugh, 2019-10-13
Interview with Frances Fox Shambaugh, 2019-10-13

Interview with Frances Shambaugh, lifelong resident of Gatlinburg. Shambaugh recounts her evacuation and time spent afterwards at the community center. She discusses the efforts in the community to support one another and her own efforts at rebuilding her home and studio. This is a representative quote from the interview: "It brought people together and there was a strong sense of community. A strong sense of not only us helping each other, but people all over the country helping us."

Interview with Frances Shambaugh, 2017-02-02
Interview with Frances Shambaugh, 2017-02-02

Interview with Frances Shambaugh, resident of Gatlinburg. Shambaugh recounts her evacuation efforts on the day of the fire and the relief efforts. She goes into detail about the aid provided by Rocky Top Sports World and the Red Cross during the crisis. This is a representative quote from the interview: "All afternoon I was listening to the radio and the tv at the same time and there was no mention of any problem. All afternoon and until 8 o'clock that night."

Interview with Gary Ownby, 2020-02-22
Interview with Gary Ownby, 2020-02-22

Interview with Gary Ownby, a teacher at Pi Beta Phi Elementary in Gatlinburg. Ownby talks about the community history of Gatlinburg before recounting his personal events during the fire. He discusses the challenges faced with relocating to the old George Pittman Elementary School, and how his faith and church provided the opportunity to serve the community following the disaster. This is a representative quote from the interview: Just up above them, there's a tree across the road suspended on power lines. Jill's car can't get through, it's first. Then my car is a little Subaru, it was lower than her's. I've got that Boy Scout knife. We started breaking limbs. Now Jill's down below cutting things with the scout knife. And Jill said every time we broke a limb or cut something, just increments, the trees started raising because it's lighter on that power line.

Interview with Gary Wilson, 2020-05-14
Interview with Gary Wilson, 2020-05-14

Interview with Gary Wilson, former videographer for the Great Smoky Mountain Association. Wilson recounts his experiences leading up to and during the fire collecting footage of the disaster. He also discusses his views on the role that Park Services had in causing the fire. Conducted over Zoom due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a representative quote from the interview: It was somewhere around the 2nd week of November, and there was a point where there were about 5 different fires up on top of Clingmans Dome, you could see 5 different fires on the landscape out there.

Interview with Geoffrey Wolpert, 2020-02-20
Interview with Geoffrey Wolpert, 2020-02-20

Interview with Geoff Wolpert, business owner in Gatlinburg. Wolpert discusses managing two separate restaurants in Gatlinburg during the wildfires. He also recounts the time after the wildfire trying to get back into the city to assess the damage and process a payroll for his employees. This is a representative quote from the interview: "What was really the challenge for us, once I knew the restaurant wasn't in harm's way--really my concern about our employees and their well-being is what became front and center."

Interview with Gerald Childress, 2017-04-20
Interview with Gerald Childress, 2017-04-20

Interview with Gerald Childress, former resident of Gatlinburg. Childress discusses his evacuation efforts during the fire and the struggles of relocating after losing his home. He also discusses community members that were lossed in the fire. This is a representative quote from the interview: "I could not see the road hardly. I had to roll down my window. You know how you burn leaves what the smoke is like? The smoke was so thick I couldn't see."

Interview with Harold and Barbara Lunsford, 2020-08-14
Interview with Harold and Barbara Lunsford, 2020-08-14

Interview with Harold and Barbara Lunsford, volunteers with Samaritan's Purse, conducted by Casey Kaufman. The Lunsford discuss their efforts in helping sift through the remains of homes for any surviving objects and the faith based services that the group offers. Conducted over Zoom due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a representative quote from the interview: "We just even with the people that had burned their homes, we saw love, and even Samaritan's Purse, those people that went out everyday, tirelessly sifting that stuff, they just showed love to us, and to the homeowners. It was just a wonderful experience."

Interview with Helen Barnett, 2020-08-14
Interview with Helen Barnett, 2020-08-14

Interview with Helen Barnett, resident of Sevier County, conducted by Jennifer Benedetto Beals. Barnett discusses the aid provided by her church, the Great Smoky Mountains Church of Christ. The efforts grew from providing water and food to survivors to assisting with bills and large items as people were rebuilding. Conducted over Zoom due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a representative quote from the interview: "Well the emotional changes with people is just taking time. That's why we try to step in as much as we did the financial. They didn't have to worry about that. They could take more care of their selves, their emotional stability."

Interview with Hilary Hunter, 2017-03-15
Interview with Hilary Hunter, 2017-03-15

Interview with Hilary Hunter, resident of Gatlinburg. Hunter recounts the surprising speed of the fire and the severity of the wind. She discusses her evacuation stay and the return to find her home intact. This is a representative quote from the interview: "Then I went acoss the street to my neighbors and told them we have to leave, panicking at this point."

Interview with Jacqueline Bridgeman, 2020-01-09
Interview with Jacqueline Bridgeman, 2020-01-09

Interview with Jacqueline Bridgeman, an emergency responder with the American Red Cross. Bridgeman recounts coming into Gatlinburg to manage a relief shelter and the steady realization about how sever the disaster was. She also discusses the challenges faced in gathering resources to serve the community and the difficulties in reaching certain branches of the community. This is a representative quote from the interview: "I heard a lot of stories and tried to reassure [the survivors]. There's still a lot of fire going on, we have all of these firetrucks. We have all of these resources. We're gonna help you, it may take a minute, but we will help you."

Interview with Jane Morris, 2017-03-29
Interview with Jane Morris, 2017-03-29

Interview with Jane Morris, resident of Gatlinburg. Morris recounts the day of the fire and the sudden evacuation of her home. She discusses the pains of losing her home and the struggles that accompany deciding to rebuild and being president of a condominium association. This is a representative quote from the interview: "You kept waiting to hear the evacuation sirens that I had grown up hearing here."

Interview with Jane Young, 2017-02-01
Interview with Jane Young, 2017-02-01

Interview with Jayne Young, resident of Gatlinburg. Young recounts the day of the fire and being forced to initially evacuate on foot from her home. She discusses the services offered at Rocky Top Sports World when it was serving as the disaster relief center and the mental and emotional toll she experienced from the wildfire. This is a representative quote from the interview: "Then a little farther down the fire was in the road, in the road itdelf. We all looked at each other and we go, 'We have no choice, if we go through, we go through.'"

Interview with Janeth Jimenez and Eda Chavez, 2021-04-23
Interview with Janeth Jimenez and Eda Chavez, 2021-04-23

In this interview Janeth Jimenez and Eda Chavez, both Honduran immigrants, each tell their personal experience of the Chimney Tops 2 wildfires. Janeth talks about the difficult decision of evacuating and leaving behind an entire lifetime of work unsure of whether her family would return to find ashes. While Eda Chavez, pastor of the Gatlinburg church “Jesús es la Puerta,” speaks about the struggle that arose from the desire to help as a leader of the Christian community and obstacles faced by the church and its members. This is representative quote from the interview: "…we didn't want to leave, it's the love that you have for where, where you're living, you don't want to but seeing, the situation that was taking place getting serious. We decided to leave, when we decided to leave and go through Cherokee Orchard here in Gatlinburg, you couldn't go because the fire was intense. That's where the chaos comes in, the worry, the helplessness."

Interview with Jean and Mike Young, 2017-05-22
Interview with Jean and Mike Young, 2017-05-22

Interview with Mike and Jean Young, residents of Gatlinburg. The Youngs discuss the day of the fire and their inability to save any belongings. They recount the feelings of loss for their home. Dealing with the thought of rebuilding, they take inventory of what truly matters and give thanks to the community. This is a representative quote from the interview: "I've heard so many stories of how some body went back for somebody else; how they knocked on the last door, sometimes to the expense of losing something else they could've gotten for themselves."

Interview with Jeff Rouse, 2020-06-12
Interview with Jeff Rouse, 2020-06-12

Interview with Jeff Rouse, volunteer with Samaritan's Purse, conducted by Casey Kaufman. Rouse discusses his background with Samaritan's Purse before detailing the efforts of the organization in Gatlinburg after the wildfires. Conducted over Zoom due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a representative quote from the interview: "All of a sudden, one of the team members found this airplane, and it was just like finding a long lost piece of gold or something. It was just amazing that they were so excited because that was some memory of their dad."

Interview with Jennifer Franklin, 2019-11-07
Interview with Jennifer Franklin, 2019-11-07

Interview with Jennifer Franklin, professor with the Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries department of UT. Franklin discusses the elements of the 2016 wildfires that led to its severity. She also provides information of the regeneration of the forest, with particular focus on the various kinds of trees in the area. This is a representative quote from the interview: "Going up to those really high intensity sights, there was no organic matter at all. It was bare earth."

Interview with Jennifer Schweitzer, 2019-12-12
Interview with Jennifer Schweitzer, 2019-12-12

Interview with Jennifer Schweitzer, professor with the Ecology & Evolutionary Biology department of UT. Scweitzer discusses the effects of the fire upon the soil and plants in Gatlinburg. She specifies that the intensity and location, whether urban or natural, had an effect on the plantlife recovery. This is a representative quote from the interview: "One of the things that I think we're most excited and feel the biggest responsibility for in this research so far, is to show what these combined effects are, because that can help city managers plan. It can help natural resource managers plan about how to respond to these kinds of events.

Interview with Jeremy Cowart, 2020-04-24
Interview with Jeremy Cowart, 2020-04-24

Interview with Jeremy Cowart, photographer of the "Voices of Gatlinburg" project. Cowart discusses the inpiration for the project and how it is helping the families of the wildfires. Conducted over Zoom due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a representative quote from the interview: "I was just trying to use my project to get more eyeballs, because more eyeballs helps tell the story. Often in these situations, the news media comes in and does their thing and they leave and so I've tried to go in after that and not only retell the story but do it in a really creative way which is why I used the drones and a mattress to bring different eyeballs."

Interview with Jessica Braunstein, 2020-03-13
Interview with Jessica Braunstein, 2020-03-13

Interview with Jessica Braunstein, PhD student with the University of Tennessee. Braunstein discusses her research concerning black bears in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and tracking the animals location. She talks about the response of the black bears to the wildfires, and the aftereffects on the habitat and behavior of the bears. This is a representative quote from the interview: That was something we were curious about, too, was, you know, are [the bears] going to leave their dens? I don't think we had any that are actually in the area that got burned down were denning yet, but we had some right on the outskirts, and they ended up just staying in their dens. They didn't move.

Interview with Jessica Moerman, 2020-06-12
Interview with Jessica Moerman, 2020-06-12

Interview with Dr. Jessica Moerman conducted by Casey Kaufman. Moerman discusses the loss of her family cabin in Gatlinburg, and then outlines the effects of climate change that are impacting the community and leading to these disasters. Conducted over Zoom due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a representative quote from the interview: "This is what I love about climate solutions is they really are benefit multipliers. So not only by looking at renewable energy sources, we're not only fighting reducing the amount of heat trapping gases that go into the atmosphere that fuel this extreme weather. We're also reducing pollution right there in our local communities because those same fossil fuel ources also put out tremendous amounts of pollution, soot, that damages our lungs, gives asthma, heart disease."

Interview with Joe Clark, 2020-04-24
Interview with Joe Clark, 2020-04-24

Interview with Joe Clark with the College of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Tennessee. Clark discusses the black bear population inside the Great Smoky Mountain National Park and how the fire affected these animals. Conducted over Zoom due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a representative quote from the interview: Animals have ways of dealing with those sorts of things. Things that we think are catastrophic, you know, to wildlife, it's just change, and it can produce, in the long run, it probably was a benefit to the bear population by opening up some of these closed canopy forests.

Interview with John Schwartz and Salley Reamer, 2020-03-13
Interview with John Schwartz and Salley Reamer, 2020-03-13

Interview with John Schwartz, professor with the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Tennessee, and Salley Reamer, graduate student in the same department. The two discuss the effects of the fire upon the water system inside the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This is a representative quote from the interview: So, basically the soil horizons, the top layer of soil, what vegetation grows from and everything is the organic layer. And so at those high sites it wasn't even there because it had burned completely away. And so it can have, I'd say it has big impacts on vegetation returning.

Interview with Johnny Baker, 2017-02-14
Interview with Johnny Baker, 2017-02-14

Interview with Johnny Baker, owner of Ole Smoky Moonshine. Baker discusses his evacuation and help provided to friends during the wildfire. He also recounts the aid provided by the Zac Brown Band in terms of providing meals and entertainment. Baker mentions the effect of the wildfires on the housing market as well. This is a representative quote from the interview: "Even the National Guardsmen, they would come in, and you'd think they'd been accustomed to seeing everything, and they said, 'We have never saw anything like this.'"

Interview with Jottie and Marie Hand, 2017-02-08
Interview with Jottie and Marie Hand, 2017-02-08

Interview with Jottie and Marie Hand, residents of Gatlinburg. The Hands discuss the day of the fire and lack of information concerning the emergency. They recount the tragic loss of their home as well as the destructive power of the wildfire. This is a representative quote from the interview: "We had no warning. We even had the tv on channel 9, which is our local station. They never said nothing about high winds coming in."

Interview with Joy Lane, 2020-01-11
Interview with Joy Lane, 2020-01-11

Interview with Joy Lane, resident and native of Sevierville. Lane shares her story of being forced to evacuate her home during the 2016 wildfires. She also discusses returning to find her home destroyed and the difficulties she faced in the period afterwards. This is a representative quote from the interview: "We were just focused on grabbing the pet and what few belongings I packed to get out of there cause we didn't know how soon the embers would catch the house on fire."

Interview with Julia Rodriguez, 2021-03-03
Interview with Julia Rodriguez, 2021-03-03

In this interview Julia Rodriguez, a Honduran native and Gatlinburg resident since 2000, tells us of the hours leading up to her evacuation and the fear filled drive her family experienced while leaving Gatlinburg as hills and homes burned down around them. Julia talks about how her sister lost her home in the fires and explains the aftermath of Gatlinburg residents dealing with a housing and employment crisis exacerbated by the fires. Julia also talks about the toll the fires had on this Hispanic community and the possible good that came of it. This is a representative quote from the interview: "“…that traumatizes you for the rest of your life. It's horrible, to see that you're at, the mouth of death. You don't know if you're living your final moments, and to see my son crying saying 'mommy, we're not going to make it.' I had no choice but to try and get out.

Interview with Junior Watson, 2017-02-24
Interview with Junior Watson, 2017-02-24

Interview with Arlie "Junior" Watson, manager of the Food City in Gatlinburg. Watson discusses the day of the fire in regards to the efforts by himself and his team to preserve food resources. He also recounts the charity accomplishments by Food City both financially and through food provisions. This is a representative quote from the interview: "We walked outside and looked up and all you could see was just flames up above, back behind the store. It was within 500 yards."

Interview with Karen Hughes, 2019-11-07
Interview with Karen Hughes, 2019-11-07

Interview with Karen Hughes, professor with the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology department of UT. Hughes discusses the impact that the fire had upon the fungi of the region and how the various species are recovering. She also elaborates on the role that fungi play in the forest, both in terms of nutrients in the soil and interacting with other organisms. This is a representative quote from the interview: "If you let some small fires burn out then the big ones don't get going, but we had a lot of fuel down in the Smokey's and we still do."

Interview with Kathleen and Philippe Dudragne, 2017-02-28
Interview with Kathleen and Philippe Dudragne, 2017-02-28

Interview witth Kathleen and Philippe Dudragne, residents of Gatlinburg. They share stories of others' challenges during the fire. The Dudragnes discuss the confusion and panic of their evacuation attempts. They recount the relief efforts provided by the Red Cross and the Rocky Top Center. This is a representative quote from the interview: "Then we looked to the right and out of the sewage drains it was on fire. So we had fire on the right and fire on the left."

Interview with Kathryn Ellis, 2020-05-14
Interview with Kathryn Ellis, 2020-05-14

Interview with Kathryn Ellis, a lawyer with Legal Aid of East Tennessee. Ellis recounts the assistance that her organization was able to provide to individuals after the wildfires. Conducted over Zoom due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a representative quote from the interview: "A big thing that we have to deal with after a disaster is how do you go about getting all of these important documents that you need. And so we would talk to them about their individual situation. We would talk to them about, was it a private landlord or was it subsidized housing, some sort of government funding? Because again, law's different. So, we would go through all of those sorts of questions and help give them the direction of--of what they needed to do or what their options were."

Interview with Kathy Gwinn, 2017-04-25
Interview with Kathy Gwinn, 2017-04-25

Interview with Kathy Gwinn, resident and tour guide of Gatlinburg. Gwinn recounts the day of the fire when she was directing a group through Gatlinburg. She discusses the fear of talking with her husband while she was unable to return home due to the evacuation. She also shares about the outpouring of generosity from the local community and across the country. This is a representative quote from the interview: "Do you think it's a miracle, in a sense, that when we've not had rain for 5 months, the night we needed it most, it came?"

Interview with Kathy Waltosz, 2020-06-11
Interview with Kathy Waltosz, 2020-06-11

Interview with Kathy Waltosz, a volunteer with Samaritan's Purse,conducted by Laura Romans. Waltosz provides an overview of Samaritan's Purse and discusses the efforts in helping survivors to sift through ashes of burned homes for valuables. Conducted over Zoom due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a representative quote from the interview: "I've seen a range of heat damage in different fires, and of course when a house burns and it doesn't have any water coming on it, it'll just go up in flames and then it'll get quite hot, to the point where it will consume everything in the house. If there's no water that comes on it when the fire is burned out in a house, you can have a one story house and what's left is about two to three inches of debris."

Interview with Kelly Johnson, 2020-05-14
Interview with Kelly Johnson, 2020-05-14

Interview with Kelly Johnson, owner of the Alamo and other restaurants in Gatlinburg. Johnson discusses the events of the fire as someone outside of Gatlinburg at the time, and the tragedy of losing her restaurant. She also discusses the recovery efforts after the fire. Conducted over Zoom due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a representative quote from the interview: "You have that weird hope, where like, maybe it was the smoke coming from down the mountain, maybe--but you sort of know in your heart, okay, the building's on fire. But I knew the sprinklers were going off, so of course at the same time you're like, okay, maybe it's a small fire or maybe thesprinklers will put it out, and you sort of cling to hope, which is ridiculous, but you don't really have any other information."

Interview with Ken Webster, 2017-02-23
Interview with Ken Webster, 2017-02-23

Interview with Ken Webster, resident of Gatlinburg. Webster discusses the speed of the wildfire that caused his family to evacuate with no prior warning that day. He recounts the devastation seen throughout Gatlinburg and especially in the Chalet Village neighborhood. This is a representative quote from the interview: "Metal roofs would not have made the outcome any different. We had a good many houses in Chalet Village that had metal roofs. In fact there's pieces of metal roofing hanging in trees where the winds took and wrapped the metal around limbs."

Interview with Ken Wise, 2019-10-13
Interview with Ken Wise, 2019-10-13

Interview with Ken Wise, member of the Rising from the Ashes project and director for the Great Smoky Mountain Regional Project. Wise discusses the early signs of the fire and the role the wind played in the disaster. He also recounts the resurgence of life in the area following the wildfire. This is a representative quote from the interview: "The wind is blowing down the mountain, downstream of the Little Pigeon, and the mountain is now glowing. It looks sort of like a volcano with some heat in it, which we hadn't seen the other three times we'd been there."

Interview with Kendall Beals, 2019-11-09
Interview with Kendall Beals, 2019-11-09

Interview with Kendall Beals, PhD candidate with the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology department of UT. Beals discusses the impact that the wildfires had on the soil in the Smokey's. She also elaborates on the effects that high burn soil can have on flora in the area. This is a representative quote from the interview: "Fires aren't always bad for natural ecosystems, especially if they are more frequent and lower intensity. Wildfires like this where they're very hot, flames are really high, and it takes them a while to pass through systems are mostly detrimental."

Interview with Larry Waters, 2020-02-20
Interview with Larry Waters, 2020-02-20

Interview with Larry Waters, Sevier County Mayor. Waters provides a brief background about Sevier County and Gatlinburg before discussing the events of the fire. He addresses the needs of a public official during a crisis and how he balanced that with personal concerns for his family. Waters also recounts the efforts following the fire to rebuild the city and bring back the tourism industry. This is a representative quote from the interview: "Love this area, love the mountains, love its people. When you finally realized what kind of devastation this firestorm had caused, it was a very emotional experience because you hate to see an area you love and people you love that are suffer as people did in that disaster. So it was a very unsettling and upsetting and emotional time."

Interview with Leslie Ackerson, 2020-01-09
Interview with Leslie Ackerson, 2020-01-09

Interview with Leslie Ackerson, reporter for WBIR in Knoxville. Ackerson describes being the only reporter sent to cover the voluntary evacuations in Gatlinburg. During her coverage the wildfires reached Gatlinburg and shifted her coverage to the destruction that was unfolding. She also recounts the follow up stories during the months and years after the fire. This is a representative quote from the interview: "There's like ten houses on fire, and you hear these fire alarms going off. That was the big thing for me at the end of the night: this is what it looks like over this entire area."

Interview with Leslie Wereszczak, 2019-12-13
Interview with Leslie Wereszczak, 2019-12-13

Interview with Leslie Wereszczak, small animal ICU supervisor for the UT College of Veterinary Medicine. Wereszczak discusses the treatment of victims from the fire, particularly cats. This includes the management of their pain as well as dressing burns mostly located on their footpads and faces. This is a representative quote from the interview: "It was something that we never saw coming, and I don't know how we made it through that month. I really don't, but we did. It definitely changed me, for the good."

Interview with Linda Morrow, 2019-10-14
Interview with Linda Morrow, 2019-10-14

Interview with Linda Morrow, resident of Gatlinburg. Morrow discusses some history of Gatlinburg before recounting the night of the fire and being forced to evacuate her home on foot. Losing her home in the wildfire, she discusses the pain of the tragedy and the challenges faced in rebuilding. This is a representative quote from the interview: "We may be a tourist town, but we're a local community, who care deeply about each other. And we'll be there to help anyway possible--that I'm proud to be a part of."

Interview with Lisa and Hannah Oakley, 2020-01-11
Interview with Lisa and Hannah Oakley, 2020-01-11

Interview with Lisa and Hannah Oakley, mother and daughter residents of Gatlinburg. They discuss their life in Gatlinburg before recounting the events of the wildfires. Splitting up during the evacuation, they eventually reunited, and used social media to follow the disaster as it was unfolding. The two also talk about the lasting impact the fire had on individuals and the city as a whole. This is a representative quote from the interview: "[Gatlinburg] is so cut off from everything else that it's almost like its own little world. You don't expect anything to happen, so I think after [the fire], it made everybody a little bit more aware this stuff really can and will happen, and you can't tell when it's going to."

Interview with Lukas Ray, 2020-08-04
Interview with Lukas Ray, 2020-08-04

Interview with Lukas Ray, formerly with Appalachian Service Project, conducted by Casey Kaufman. Ray discusses the process through which families and individuals were identified for the home rebuilding process. He Conducted over Zoom due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a representative quote from the interview: "I think getting into cleaning up the properties after we were there would be some of the hardest things you do, because we would come across things that we would put off to the side that were burnt, obviously burnt, but could be a family treasurer or something they wanted. They won't. It's amazing what things do survive fires when you're digging through rubbles."

Interview with Mali Hubert, 2020-01-10
Interview with Mali Hubert, 2020-01-10

Interview with Malie Hubert, PhD candidate with the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology department of UT. Hubert discusses her study of the resurgence in plant species after the fire in both natural and urban environments. This is a representative quote from the interview: "If and when this does happen again, I think it's important to know what type of plants are we gonna see coming about. Are we seeing more fire adapted species? Are we seeing the same species that we already there?"

Interview with Marcus and Randy Watson, 2020-09-10
Interview with Marcus and Randy Watson, 2020-09-10

Interview with Marcus and Randy Watson, with the Skylift Park in Gatlinburg, conducted by Casey Kaufman. The Watsons provide a background about the original skylift that was in the city, and discuss its destruction from the fires. They also recount their own evacuation that night from the fires, and the efforts to rebuild and expand the skylift. Conducted over Zoom due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a representative quote from the interview: "Yes, the attraction itself burned down, but Gatlinburg as a whole, as far as the downtown area was not touched. And the reason for that was because of the great coordination that the many fire departments had."

Interview with Marshall Ramsey, 2022-01-14
Interview with Marshall Ramsey, 2022-01-14

Interview with Marshall Ramsey, editor-at-large for the Mississippi Today and nationally recognized editorial cartoonist, conducted by Casey Kaufman. Ramsey discusses his ties to the Smoky Mountains and the impact the wildfire had on his family and friends. He explains how the wildfire has emotionally influenced some of his cartoons. Conducted over Zoom due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a representative quote from the interview: "To look back on the Gatlinburg fire five years ago and to see how that city, the Pigeon Forge area, and some of the areas in Wears Valley and Cobbly Nob, to see how the recovery has happened and to see why it happened the way it did. Because people love the Smokies, because people loved each other, and because people cared about each other."

Interview with Martha Ward, 2017-04-20
Interview with Martha Ward, 2017-04-20

Interview with Martha Ward, resident of Gatlinburg. Ward discusses the day of the fire and the activities of several community members. Starting with the efforts at Park Vista during and after the fire, she also recounts the assistance given by a neighbor Sandy Vineyard. She then shares the actions of Joel B. Cox to save a school bus and provide transportation during the fire. This is a representative quote from the interview: "There was a huge propane tank right beside our house at the hardware store. And when we heard the explosion, those of use who could walk went outside, and there was fire raining out of the sky."

Interview with Marty Pryor, 2020-01-09
Interview with Marty Pryor, 2020-01-09

Interview with Marty Pryor, retired social worker and volunteer with the Red Cross. Pryor discusses the aid she provided during the relief efforts of the wildfires. She also talks about the ways in which the community bonded during and after the disaster. This is a representative quote from the interview: "Now in all situations when a human organism goes through an emotional trauma, one of the needs is to tell their story. We are social beings and we talk, and that's one reason you all are doing this project: our social history is very important. And everybody has a story to tell."

Interview with Mary Anne Hitt, 2020-09-24
Interview with Mary Anne Hitt, 2020-09-24

Interview with Mary Anne Hitt, with the Sierra Club, conducted by Casey Kaufman. Hitt recounts the events of the fire as a concerned observer outside of the city due to her parents living in Gatlinburg. She also discusses how these fires are evidence of climate change and the work that she does confronting this global challenge. Conducted over Zoom due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a representative quote from the interview: "Living in Appalachia, [climate change] had never felt personal to me, and it was a life changing experience because I realize there's not a place that is going to be safe from climate change and we're not safe from it now. It's not just a problem for our grandchildren, it's a problem for us today and it's a problem for my child today."

Interview with Melisa Miller, 2020-07-21
Interview with Melisa Miller, 2020-07-21

Interview with Melisa Miller, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Appalachian Service Project, conducted by Casey Kaufman. Miller discusses the background of ASP before explaining the role the organization played in the aftermath of the wildfires. She recounts various families that ASP helped both through home rebuilds and ministering. Conducted over Zoom due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a representative quote from the interview: "Then there were some design elements that we always do regardless of the type of disaster, that are specific to the disaster that happened. So we put many more fire safety measures into the design of the home than what we have in most of our usual installations."

Interview with Michelle Childs, 2019-11-09
Interview with Michelle Childs, 2019-11-09

Interview with Michelle Childs, professor with the Retail, Hospitality, and Tourism Management department of UT. Childs discusses the effects of the wildfire on the businesses in Gatlinburg primarily over an extended time frame. She talks about the preparedness of businesses with contacting employees during the fire and in terms of insurance coverage. She also elaborates on the initial return of tourists to the area, and the steady recovery of the area. This is a representative quote from the interview: "What was really interesting because likely its such a small, tightknit community that those personal stories were really intertwined with the business stories."

Interview with Mike Aday, 2019-10-14
Interview with Mike Aday, 2019-10-14

Interview with Mike Aday, archivist for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Aday discusses the day of the fire from the vantage point of someone outside the city. He recounts the fear of the day as well as the damage done to the city of Gatlinburg and surrounding area. He provides insight into academic research areas that have opened up after the wildfire. This is a representative quote from the interview: "I think it's important that we look at the fire history of this area and look at the human impact that has created these fire events. This isn't a one off."

Interview with Mike Werner, 2020-02-20
Interview with Mike Werner, 2020-02-20

Interview with Mike Werner, Mayor of Gatlinburg. Werner discusses the day of the fire and the heavy smoke in the air and the surprising speed at which the fire reached the city. He also recounts balancing his professional respsonsibilities to Gatlinburg while also managing the loss of his own home in the disaster. This is a representative quote from the interview: "Our downtown was saved. If we would've lost our downtown, it wouldn't have been a few years to recover, it would've been decades."

Interview with Paige Braddock, 2022-01-14
Interview with Paige Braddock, 2022-01-14

Interview with Paige Braddock, Chief Creative Officer for Charles Shulz's studio and former East Tennessee resident, conducted by Casey Kaufman. Braddock discusses her time in East Tennessee and relates her California wildfire experiences to the wildfire in Gatlinburg. She explains how her experiences have helped her create artwork for the Gatlinburg wildfire. Conducted over Zoom due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a representative quote from the interview: "If there is a story or an event or something that is almost impossible to illustrate with a photograph, sometimes a drawing or illustration can get to the heart of that so that you're not so much showing a representation of something that happened, but you're getting at the emotion behind what happened."

Interview with Paul Wellborn, 2019-10-13
Interview with Paul Wellborn, 2019-10-13

Interview with Paul Wellborn, owner of Ely's Mill in Gatlinburg. Wellborn recounts his efforts during the fire to help direct traffic out of the town. He also discusses the following days and weeks dealing with city and federal responders to the crisis. This is a representative quote from the interview: "The smoke got so bad, he was having to look at the lines to see where to go. He was looking at the line in the road on that backhoe to get out of there."

Interview with Randall Brackins, 2020-10-26
Interview with Randall Brackins, 2020-10-26

Interview with Randall Brackins, chief of police for the city of Gatlinburg, conducted by Casey Kaufman. Brackins discusses the challenges faced by the Gatlinburg Police surrounding the wildfires. He recounts first being alerted to the wildfires, and the most pressing concerns for the police on the night of the disaster, and in the following days. This is a representative quote from the interview: "So we depended on our fellow law enforcement officers from all different areas to help us secure the town. And we did not allow no one in town for a few days because of security and all the dangers that were there, for instance, power lines were downed, trees were down, you couldn't go all the way through different roads or different areas."

Interview with Roger Comstock, 2020-08-18
Interview with Roger Comstock, 2020-08-18

Interview with Roger Comstock, pastor for the Gatlinburg Church of Christ, conducted by Casey Kaufman. Comstock arrived in Gatlinburg after the wildfires, but discusses the services his church provided to survivors. He also recounts the challenges of rebuilding the church after the wildfires destroyed the old church. Conducted over Zoom due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a representative quote from the interview: "I guess they'll always be that sort of a marker, a landmark, that everybody will connect to, you know, before the fire and after the fire."

Interview with Roxana Ungureanu, 2021-03-24
Interview with Roxana Ungureanu, 2021-03-24

Interview with Roxana Ungureanu, resident of Gatlinburg, conducted by Christian David Rivera. Ungureanu discusses her experience during the fire, and shares some of the difficulties faced by the Romanian community in Gatlinburg. She also explains the current challenges presented by COVID-19. This is a representative quote from the interview: She sent me a video, how the fires are around that hotel. Which, the hotel is in town, you know, it's five minutes from my house. I can see it from here, I'm actually looking at it from my house. And then I showed that to my friends like, "hey, guys, watch this." I feel that time for me, everything was a joke. I didn't think it was gonna, you know, be like that until I saw the damage a few days after, when I started crying actually, and realized that everything was so serious.

Interview with Russ Jensen, 2019-09-20
Interview with Russ Jensen, 2019-09-20

Interview with Russ Jensen, director of 311 and 211 for the city of Knoxville. Jensen discusses initially establishing the channels and awareness in the community for these services. He also recounts the role the organization played during the fire in both directing victims to needed resources as well as the incoming donations and volunteers that needed to be properly funneled into necessary roles. This is a representative quote from the interview: "A lot of times people, especially when you're dealing in a crisis, you don't want to be on the internet searcing for stuff, you want to talk to somebody."

Interview with Russell Biven, 2020-02-21
Interview with Russell Biven, 2020-02-21

Interview with Russell Biven of WBIR news station in Knoxville. Biven recounts being a reporter on the front line during the wildfires' aftermath. He discusses the stories that left a lasting impression on him personally during that time. He also talks on the difficulties in covering a disaster when it is so close to home. This is a representative quote from the interview: "We want to get it right, we want to tell the facts, and we want to do it the right way and be objective about it, but when the shift is over, you're still a human being."

Interview with Ruth Wellborn, 2019-10-13
Interview with Ruth Wellborn, 2019-10-13

Interview with Ruth Wellborn, owner of Ely's Mill in Gatlinburg. Wellborn was in the Florida Keys during the day of the fire, and recounts her experience returning home after the disaster. She discusses personal recovery efforts as well as those by the city. She also discusses the feeling of a town that has to rebuild after a wildfire of this magnitude. This is a representative quote from the interview: "I contend that, you know, I had lots and lots of angels. You can say the power of positive thinking or whatever, but my official line is that I had angels."

Interview with Ryan DeSear, 2020-08-13
Interview with Ryan DeSear, 2020-08-13

Interview with Ryan DeSear, General Manager of Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies, coducted by Casey Kaufman. DeSear provides a background for the aquarium and Ripley's Entertainment before discussing the wildfires in 2016. He recounts the challenges faced by the aquarium's staff and the aid that was provided by Ripley's. He also discusses the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. Conducted over Zoom due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a representative quote from the interview: "We couldn't get good information, there wasn't a lot of good news media as to exactly what was happening. All we knew was that the National Parks was saying that it was way outside on the Chimney Tops, no issues there, the city was going to be fine and all that kind of stuff."

Interview with Sarah Praskievicz, 2020-03-13
Interview with Sarah Praskievicz, 2020-03-13

Interview with Sarah Praskievicz, professor with the Department of Geography, Environment, and Sustainability at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Praskievicz discusses her research on the effects of the fire on the water systems of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Conducted over Zoom. This is a representative quote from the interview: One thing we thought we might see was a relationship between the percentage of the drainage area of each site that was within the burned area. And we did not see that pattern. There was no apparent relationship. Instead, it seemed to be much more affected by the burn severity immediately adjacent to the channels.

Interview with Sarah Reagan, 2019-12-14
Interview with Sarah Reagan, 2019-12-14

Interview with Sarah Reagan, teacher for Pi Beta Phi Elementary School in Gatlinburg. Reagan recounts the day of the fire and the growing unease she felt for her class leading up to the early dismissal. She also discusses returning to the school after the fire and the hardships faced by the students and faculty following the fire. This is a representative quote from the interview: "I think we always just try to be sensitive to the fact that these children, the students from that time, went through a severely traumatic event and that even though we may not be thinking about it day to day, it's going to have an effect on even their academic achievement for years."

Interview with Sarina Manifold, 2020-04-23
Interview with Sarina Manifold, 2020-04-23

Interview with Sarina Manifold, Licensed Clinical Social Worker. Manifold discusses her role at the UT Veterinary Clinic offering grief support to staff and families before the fire and how her role continued during the disaster. Conducted over Zoom due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a representative quote from the interview: And so we need to be able to provide support to them. The people who were providing the actual medical care for the animals, they are going to be seeing things that, while they are maybe more accustomed to seeing animals in bad shape and in trauma, they're still going to have a trauma response. And so being able to identify OK, what are the areas of our expertise that we can offer support

Interview with Seemona and Daniel Whaley, 2019-09-20
Interview with Seemona and Daniel Whaley, 2019-09-20

Interview with Seemona and Daniel Whaley, former residents of Gatlinburg. The Whaley's discuss the feeling at the time before the fire had become widespread. They also go into detail about the harrowing efforts to evacuate off a mountain that wass engulfed in the fire. Reflections about community relations and how Gatlinburg began to slowly recover are also touched upon. This is a representative quote from the interview: "That's where it looked like lava running up the mountain. You could see the fire going uphill."

Interview with Shirley Price, 2020-02-22
Interview with Shirley Price, 2020-02-22

Interview with Shirley Price, resident of Gatlinburg. Price discusses her experiences during the wildfire while hearing reports about her neighborhood burning when she was out of town. She also recounts returning to Gatlinburg to find that she had not lost her home. This is a representative quote from the interview: And when he got up on top, that's when we found out about the burn marks on the top. And that's when I was so thankful that it had two sets of shingles on that roof, because it burned through the first set or melted, and there were these holes that were right down to the plywood but didn't catch, it didn't catch the plywood on fire.

Interview with Stacey Adam and Chris Szaton, 2017-04-24
Interview with Stacey Adam and Chris Szaton, 2017-04-24

Interview with Stacey Adam and Chris Szaton, residents of Gatlinburg. Adam and Szaton discuss the day of the fire and some of the early signs that this was not a typical fire. They recount the safeguards to prepare their home for disaster and evacuation. They also discuss the effect the fire had on their neighborhood and the efforts of the community to begin rebuilding. This is a representative quote from the interview: "The fire was so hot that when you lose your place there's nothing left but the foundation or cinder blocks."

Interview with Stacia Martin-West, 2020-04-23
Interview with Stacia Martin-West, 2020-04-23

Interview with Stacia Martin-West, professor with the College of Social Work at the University of Tennessee. Martin-West discusses her research focused on unconditional cash transfers provided to survivors of the wildfires. She also discusses the perceptions surrounding these transfers. Conducted over Zoom due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a representative quote from the interview: What we saw though, after the one year mark, is that most of the individuals that had been homeowners previously were able to purchase new residences--residence or they were able to rebuild, or those that had previously been in apartments were able to start renting again. And so, I think just looking at that in itself is a success, right.

Interview with Stanton Sweeney, 2020-03-13
Interview with Stanton Sweeney, 2020-03-13

Interview with Stanton Sweeney, current student at the University of Tennessee Knoxville, conducted by Casey Kaufman. Sweeney was a high school student during the time of the fire and shares this perspective. He recounts evacuating from school due to the smoke, and then evacuating from the city. He also shares about returning to his home to find that it had been destroyed in the fires. This is a representative quote from the interview: And actually that night before we went to bed, we were praying for rain, because it had not rained in forever. And it actually ended up raining. And we were going outside, and it started sprinkling. And that was a huge relief. Just knowing that there was rain on the way that could help.

Interview with Stephanie Sweeney, 2020-03-14
Interview with Stephanie Sweeney, 2020-03-14

Interview with Stephanie Sweeney, resident of Gatlinburg. Sweeney talks about her love for the area and its history, and the hardship of being a new resident to the area before suffering the loss of her home. She also recounts the kindness she found in the community afterwards in receiving donations to start over. This is a representative quote from the interview: And I told the kids, I said, "when we get down here to the spur there's liable to be a traffic jam but we're gonna be okay, we've got a full tank of gas, and, you know, we'll be all right." Well, we came to a tree that had already blown down but I was in that Outback, and I just went right over it.

Interview with Stephen Lyn Bales, 2021-10-13
Interview with Stephen Lyn Bales, 2021-10-13

Interview with Stephen Lyn Bales, Gatlinburg native, naturalist and writer, who speaks of his experiences of growing up in the Gatlinburg area. Bales reflects on his childhood and ancestral ties to Gatlinburg, as well as the emotional impact of the Chimney Tops 2 Wildfires of 2016. This is a representative quote from the interview: "All I really lost are the fountainhead of my memories, everything. But I still have the memories. And now they’ve been recorded."

Interview with Steve Norman, 2020-06-11
Interview with Steve Norman, 2020-06-11

Interview with Steve Norman, ecologist with the United States Forest Service, conducted by Ken Wise. Norman discusses the causes of the wildfires and the potential for more fires in the future. Conducted over Zoom due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a representative quote from the interview: You've got a whole lot of homes on the way that were not there back in the day of Wiley Oakley. And so the hazard might be the same over the centuries, but the vulnerability, the susceptible assets we have, and therefore the risk, are quite a bit different now than they ever were in the past.

Interview with Susan Melchor, 2017-03-22
Interview with Susan Melchor, 2017-03-22

Interview with Susan Melchor, resident of Gatlinburg. Melchor recounts the day of the fire and the uneasiness she felt prior. She discusses the pain of losing her home and the efforts from charity organizations to help rebuild her home. This is a representative quote from the interview: "Your home is your refuge, and I just want to go home."

Interview with Terry Williams, 2019-12-14
Interview with Terry Williams, 2019-12-14

Interview with Terry Williams, former resident of Gatlinburg, Williams discusses the day of the fire and the surprise of how close it had approached his home. He recounts his evacuation and then his return, finding that his home had been destroyed. He also talks about the community and the sense of outreach that was constant throughout the aftermath. This is a representative quote from the interview: "[The wind] was just more violent. My fear at that point had nothing to do with fire, I thought trees were gonna come crashing down onto my home. It was that much more intense then I had ever heard before."

Interview with Tim Dale, 2020-02-21
Interview with Tim Dale, 2020-02-21

Interview with Tim Dale, a photojournalist for WBIR in Knoxville. Dale talks about being in Gatlinburg on the day of the fire to initially cover the smoke and then being reassigned to the fire itself. He discusses that night in Gatlinburg filming the fire and covering the following day at Rocky Top Sports World. This is a representative quote from the interview: "Seeing a tree fall on a car in front of you was a little disconcerting, I guess is the word I would use, but I was never frightened the whole time."

Interview with Tommy Smith, 2020-06-19
Interview with Tommy Smith, 2020-06-19

Interview with Tommy Smith, volunteer with Samaritan's Purse, conducted by Casey Kaufman. Smith details his personal experiences volunteering with the organization in Gatlinburg and the families that he encountered. Conducted over Zoom due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a representative quote from the interview: "You get to his driveway, and it's these big, gray boulders, you have to go around the curb to see a beautiful log cabin made out of chestnut logs. He's bracing himself and he turns the corner and it's nothing but a slab and smoldering ashes."

Interview with Tyler Jeffrey, 2020-05-15
Interview with Tyler Jeffrey, 2020-05-15

Interview with Tyler Jeffrey, a meterologist, conducted by Laura Romans. Jeffrey discusses the surrounding conditions that caused the severity of the wildfires, including the drought and high winds at the time. Conducted over Zoom due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a representative quote from the interview: This time people were waiting with, you know, with--just prayerfully for this rain to come, and it just didn't. It just took forever.

Interview with Walt McFalls, 2019-12-14
Interview with Walt McFalls, 2019-12-14

Interview with Walt McFalls, resident of Gatlinburg. McFalls recounts the day of the fire and the efforts he made to evacuate safely. He also discusses the visible changes over time of the forest recovering during the years following. This is a representative quote from the interview: "It got so hot around [my niece's] house that the vinyl siding melted and ran down the house, but the house never caught on fire."

Interview with Zachary James, 2019-09-20
Interview with Zachary James, 2019-09-20

Interview with Zachary James, student at the University of Tennessee Knoxville from Sevierville, Tennessee. James discusses his experience as a high school student in Sevierville during the time of the wildfires, including memories of classmates who were impacted, the closing of Sevier County schools, and the relief efforts. This is a representative quote from the interview: "Most of the people who lived in Gatlinburg were like, 'You should come down, see what happened, visit some of the areas that were affected.' Because a lot of these businesses depend on tourists."

Interview with Zak Goodman-Strauss, 2020-02-22
Interview with Zak Goodman-Strauss, 2020-02-22

Interview with Zak Goodman-Strauss, resident of Gatlinburg. Goodman-Strauss recounts the day of the fire with regards to the heavy smoke, and his evacuation from the sudden fire. He also discusses returning to his home despite the city still being closed and the tragedy of finding the body of one victim of the fire. This is a representative quote from the interview: So it's just really smoky in Asheville and super dry in Gatlinburg, though I didn't really think about fire here so much, but there was definitely a lot of fire in the air, you know, at the time. And so, so I'd noticed that. There was definitely fires going on already.