UT professor on Chimney Tops 2 report: Residents should be prepared for fires

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – A full review of the Chimney Tops 2 fire showed the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was not ready for the wildfires that swept through Sevier County.

The report called the wildfire conditions the “new normal,” something University of Tennessee Professor Henri Grissino-Mayer says he has known for years.

“The reality is conditions are different today,” said Grissino-Mayer. “The environmental conditions are different today. The forests are different today. The fuel loadings are different today.”

Grissino-Mayer says it is impossible to predict when a wildfire could happen again, but residents need to be prepared.

Previous story: National Park releases Chimney Tops 2 fire review report

“If you’re going to rebuild, I don’t want to see I don’t want to see the use of railroad ties that are extremely flammable and act as fire fences that lead a fire right to the house,” said Grissino-Mayer.

He also says people who live and work in the mountains should not just stick international business codes but to the stricter International Wildland Urban Interface Code.

“There needs to be changes in building codes,” said Grissino-Mayer. “There needs to be changes in the materials used for example and these are lessons learned in California, Colorado, where you see wildfires.”

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