A total of four people have died after violent storms struck Tennessee on Thursday, July 5, including two people who died in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Park spokeswoman Melissa Cobern says a man on a motorcycle was killed as was a 41-year-old woman who was struck by a falling tree. The names of the victims were withheld while their family members were told.
The storms struck Thursday evening at the west end of the 500,000-acre park on the Tennessee-North Carolina border. Most of the damage appeared to be in the popular Cades Cove area of the park and in communities just outside the park boundaries. Many cove visitors were still on vacation for the Fourth of July holiday.
The storm hit around 6 p.m., blowing down many trees from Metcalf Bottoms across Cades Cove to the Abrams Creek section of the park.
Multiple injuries were reported. Officials told the Knoxville News Sentinel on Friday morning that they believe all visitors and staff members who were in the park when the storms hit have been accounted for.
Entrances to the park have been closed because of safety concerns. Authorities have set up a command center to deal with any injuries.
Boat Capsizes Killing 10-Year-Old
In other parts of the region, the storms were strong enough to cause problems ranging from a boat capsizing on water to spreading brush fires on land.
A boat containing 12 people on Chickamauga Lake near the Island Cove boat ramp capsized because of the heavy wind, according to officials. A 10-year-old girl and her grandmother died in the accident according to Bill Tittle, chief of Hamilton County Emergency Management. There also have been isolated injuries throughout the county, he said.
Brush Fires Spread
Evening storms were also the catalyst for widespread fires Friday.
According to a dispatcher, the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office received incessant calls that heavy winds knocked down trees and power lines, sparking several brush fires from one end of the county to the other, the dispatcher said, calling the evening “a mess.”
Bradley County also reported at least 10 brush fires resulting from down, sparking power lines. No injuries in either counties were reported.
This is a copy of the full article provided by The Weather Channel