Remember that huge anti-Smokies rant I posted back in May? I'm sure it sounded like I wanted Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and Sevierville to go up in flames--and in the moment I just might have--but now that it's actually happening, I've entirely reconsidered.
When a friend of mine in Chattanooga informed me of the fire there this morning, I was surprised. Wildfires in November? Shouldn't those hills be covered in snow? But it turns out that the Smokies are at the center of a severe drought afflicting the entire Southeast. As my Chattanoogan friend said, "[L]ast night was the first rain of measure here for something like a hundred days." Wildfires have blazed throughout the Blue Ridge for the past month, including this particularly nasty one near the west entrance to Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
The fire began on Chimney Top Mountain: