Records: Failed communications hampered response to fire

GATLINBURG, Tenn. (AP) – Newly released records show failed communication systems hampered the response to deadly wildfires in Tennessee last fall.

The Knoxville News Sentinel reports records that Sevier County began to release Wednesday show that wind and fire on Nov. 28 combined to disable cell towers, melt fiber-optic cables and disrupt radio signals and phone lines.

Local news said autopsy reports were also released for 13 of the 14 people who died after the wildfires. The cause of death for nine victims was shown as smoke inhalation. One person was hit by a tree limb and then may have died of smoke inhalation, while two may have died due to health issues or a car accident. One died of cardiac stress.

Media reports dashcam videos, radio traffic and 911 calls show what dispatchers faced.

The communication problems also undermined efforts to send a mobile evacuation alert.

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Categories: Regional News

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