Footage from an aerial drone operated by Gatlinburg, Tennessee, resident Andrew Duncan, shows the devastation resulting from nearby wildfires.

By Caitlin Keating
December 02, 2016 04:29 PM
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Footage from an aerial drone operated by Gatlinburg, Tennessee, resident Andrew Duncan, shows the devastation resulting from nearby wildfires.

“There were cars left in ditches where people wrecked them trying to escape,” he told CNN Thursday. “Small fires are still burning within the structures, and those that did burn appeared to be total losses. We didn’t see any partially burned structures.”

Officials have confirmed 13 deaths since the fires began. They are also estimating 700 impacted structures and more than 17,000 acres burned.

Among the victims of the fires are Jon and Janet Summers, a Memphis couple who was vacationing with their three sons in Gatlinburg when wildfire ripped through the town.

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Their three sons — Branson, 23, and Jared and Wesley, who turned 22 on Wednesday — are at the hospital being treated for burns, FOX 8 reports.

“I am sorry to report that at 4:45 pm CST, the Sevier County Sheriff’s department has reported that the Medical Examiner has confirmed that two of the bodies found in North Chalet Village were Jon and Janet Summers,” Jon’s brother, Jim Summers, posted on Facebook Thursday. “Their 3 sons are aware. Your prayers are appreciated.”

The family was in Gatlinburg for a birthday celebration and became separated when the wildfires spread, reports WBIR.

According to friends, their path was blocked by debris and when they all left their car to flee on foot, they became separated.

According to USA Today, Janet initially took to Facebook to write about the fire.

“Feels like end of times. Businesses closing, people wearing masks,” she wrote. “The fires in the North Carolina mountains are close to Gatlinburg. We are in an odd space with little visibility, ashes floating.”

A YouCaring page was created for the sons and has since raised over $50,000.

Another victim, Alice Hagler, 70, was on the phone with a son at her home in Gatlinburg when the line went dead.

“She called me at 8:30 and said the house was on fire. I told her to get out immediately,” James Wood told WATE on Tuesday.

In Sevier County alone, more than 400 firefighters and almost 100 fire apparatuses are supporting the firefighting effort, according to The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency.