$2 Million Wrongful Death Suit Filed Over Gatlinburg Wildland Fire

The family of a man killed in the wildland fire that tore through Gatlinburg, Tennessee last year has filed suit against Sevier County and the city.

Deborah Spillers, the daughter of Gatlinburg pastor Rev. Ed Taylor, filed suit Monday in Sevier County Circuit Court accusing the city and county of negligence. The suit seeks $2 million in damages.

The suit claims that Taylor was initially told by the Gatlinburg Fire Department that he did not have to evacuate. By the time the evacuation order was given a widespread power outage prevented the use of mass notification leaving emergency personnel to go door to door in an effort to evacuate citizens. The suit claims “as a result of these acts or omissions, they weren’t warned or notified that he needed to evacuate his residence.”

The fire, which later became part of an incident complex known as the 2016 Great Smokey Mountains Wildfires, killed 14, injured 134, burned 17,904 acres and destroyed over 2400 structures.

 

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 45 years of fire service experience and 35 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014, 4th ed. 2022) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.
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