Posted 8/18/23

Victims of a deadly 2016 wildfire that began in Great Smoky Mountains National Park before it burned through Gatlinburg and surrounding areas will have another chance to seek compensation from the federal government.

Several lawsuits claim park employees failed to warn the city of Gatlinburg and its residents of the danger until it was too late.

A federal judge last year dismissed the lawsuits, ruling that the plaintiffs were not specific enough in pre-lawsuit claims about what they were alleging.

Thursday, a three-judge panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals vacated that ruling, sending the case back to the lower court.

The fire killed 14 people and caused an estimated $2 billion in losses, including about 2,500 buildings that were damaged or destroyed. The fire began on less than half an acre in a remote section of the park during the Thanksgiving holidays, when the park was minimally staffed.