NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A review has concluded that drought-stricken Great Smoky Mountains National Park was not prepared for the fire that contributed to 14 deaths and up to $2 billion of damage in November.
The National Park Service released the independent review Thursday.
At a news conference, Park Service officials called it impossible to predict the fire in the park would blow several miles to the Gatlinburg area by hurricane-force winds. The fire merged with others, causing death and destruction.
The report says park fire staffers couldn’t communicate with some other agencies’ first responders amid radio limitations, further hampering the firefighting effort.
In response, the park will undergo a $2.5 million radio communications system upgrade and seven neighboring fire departments will receive reportable radios and protective equipment, among other changes.