News Release

Public assistance needed to identify those responsible for suspected arson fire in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

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Date: November 22, 2023
Contact: Katie Liming, 865-713-4928

The National Park Service is requesting the public’s help in identifying those responsible for the start of the Rich Mountain Fire in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

The initial investigation indicates that two fires were started on Nov. 20 in the Rich Mountain area by an unknown arsonist. The fires were started under high wind conditions, a red flag warning and a park-wide burn ban. The Rich Mountain Fire was reported on Nov. 20 around 2:30 pm near the intersection of Old Cades Cove Road and Rich Mountain Road. The fire prompted an early-morning voluntary evacuation of homes near the park boundary on Nov. 21.  

“Intentionally setting fires in the park, except in designated rings or picnic areas, is always illegal and is extremely dangerous, especially under the extreme weather conditions we saw this week,” said Boone Vandzura, Chief Ranger of Resource and Visitor Protection. “We are asking visitors and neighbors for help as we work to identify those responsible for this suspected arson.”  

A white truck was seen at the Rich Mountain trailhead on Nov. 20 around 10 a.m. This vehicle may not be involved in the incident, but the occupants may have seen something and have information that can assist the investigation. Information from visitors is often very helpful to investigators. If you have information that could help identify those responsible for this suspected arson, the park asks you to please submit a tip. You don’t have to tell us who you are, but please tell us what you know. A financial award is available for validated tips.  

CALL the NPS-wide Tip Line 888-653-0009 ONLINE form   EMAIL  EMERGENCY dial 9-1-1  

As of today, the Rich Mountain Fire is 100% contained. Firefighters continue to mop up the fire and will monitor it through the weekend. 31 personnel are assigned to the Rich Mountain Fire, including National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service and firefighters.  

Last updated: November 29, 2023

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