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East Gatlinburg Earns National Recognition for Wildfire Preparedness

Tuesday, March 10, 2020 | 04:17pm

The East Gatlinburg community of Gatlinburg, Tenn. has earned Firewise USA® recognition based on its efforts to reduce the vulnerability of homes and landscapes to wildfire. East Gatlinburg joins 26 other communities in Tennessee to earn this designation since the program started in 2002.

In celebration of this accomplishment, a ceremony will be held on March 11 at 2 p.m. EDT at the American Legion Hall, located at 1230 East Parkway in Gatlinburg. The Tennessee Department of Agriculture Division of Forestry will present the community with a commemorative plaque and Firewise USA® street signs. In attendance will be community leaders, homeowners, Gatlinburg Fire Department representatives, and Division of Forestry officials.

“The Firewise USA® program helps community members understand ways to keep homes and people safe,” East Gatlinburg Firewise Coordinator Julia Lowe said. “When people take these action steps around their homes and properties, they can reduce the risk of fires. Firewise provides the framework to help communities be more prepared and aware.”

To earn the recognition, the community worked with the Gatlinburg Fire Department and Division of Forestry to conduct a wildfire hazard assessment and develop a protection plan to address safety concerns. Residents are now working together to implement the plan to reduce fire risk.

East Gatlinburg completed a Community Wildfire Protection Plan as a requirement to become a nationally recognized Firewise USA® site. That plan allows the community to apply for grants from the Division of Forestry to implement projects specified within it.

“The community of East Gatlinburg has done great work in taking responsibility to address wildfire safety,” Assistant District Forester Nathan Waters said. “We want to continue to partner with residents across the state who are ready to develop protection plans and implement safety measures.”

The Firewise USA® program is voluntary and information can be found online at For more information about the East Gatlinburg Firewise ceremony, please contact Brook Smith at 865-603-5217.