Report on response to Tennessee wildfires expected in July

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – The National Park Service says it expects to release a review in mid- to late July of its response to a November wildfire in Great Smoky Mountains National Park that turned deadly.

The Knoxville News Sentinel reports ( ) that a seven-member committee began in February to study how the fire was handled.

The fire began on 1.5 acres in a remote area of the park. Amid extreme drought conditions, high winds helped the fire jump mountain ranges for more than five miles (8 kilometers). The fire killed 14 people in the Gatlinburg area as it ravaged thousands of buildings.

National Park Service staff is reviewing the report.

Committee leader Joe Stutler, a senior adviser with Deschutes County forestry in Oregon, said the report is meant to be constructive, not punitive.