Opinions Mixed About Whether New Codes Would Have Reduced Tennessee Wildfire Damage

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Researchers say the choice of materials, distance from trees, and accessibility to firefighters can greatly increase survival of people and buildings

December 28, 2016

Great Smoky Mountians in Sevier County, Tenn. Photo: Aviator31/Wikimedia Commons

The devastating wildfires that struck the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee this fall were responsible for the deaths of 14 people and the damage or destruction of more than 2,400 structures. Researchers say the choice of materials, distance from trees, and accessibility to firefighters can greatly increase survival of people and buildings. Most of those standards are not mandated in Sevier County, Tennessee. Fire officials in the area doubt that new codes would have mitigated much of the damage, though. Many of the buildings destroyed were older cabins that would not have been impacted by new codes.

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