Charred Smokies town rebounds, doubts fires are 'new normal' - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Charred Smokies town rebounds, doubts fires are 'new normal'

Associated Press

GATLINBURG, Tenn. (AP) - Business owners are proceeding with new Great Smoky Mountains projects a year the area was decimated by deadly wildfires.

That's despite a National Park Service report saying the conditions that caused the November 2016 blaze could become the "new normal," citing climate change.

Work had just begun on the Anakeesta adventure park when flames roared through its land. The $30 million Gatlinburg resort opened in September, with $8 million in additions planned.

A $35 million Margaritaville Resort is slated to open in Gatlinburg this spring.

Bob Bentz of Anakeesta and local officials don't think there's a "new normal" because of last year's unlikely circumstances, which included drought conditions, extremely strong winds and the fact that teens were playing with matches in the mountains.

The fire killed 14 people.

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