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3 more dead in Gatlinburg fires, death toll now 7

Sevier County, Tenn. Mayor Larry Waters says three people were rescued on Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016, but three more bodies were also discovered as a result of fires that engulfed the county. (WZTV)

GATLINBURG, Tenn. (WZTV) - Sevier County Mayor Larry Waters says three people were rescued on Wednesday, but three more bodies were also discovered as a result of fires that engulfed the county.

Mayor Waters stated the names of the deceased will not be released until they are positively identified and loved ones have been notified.

The three bodies recovered were found on Campbell Lead Road. Each of the deceased individuals was an adult. One rescue took place on Ski Mountain Road and the other two rescues took place after the individuals had called 911 for help from an elevator at the Westgate Resort.

In all, Mayor Waters stated there have been 53 injuries reported, though most have been treated and released.

Mayor Waters said as crews have continued to conduct searches, the number of structures damaged has also risen from 150 to over 400. It is expected as more debris is cleared and crews are able to access areas, that number will increase.

Gatlinburg Fire Chief Greg Miller says in addition to the over 400 structures damaged in Sevier County, over 300 structures have been damaged or destroyed in Gatlinburg. Miller says 10 minutes before updating the media, crews were responding to another active structure fire. Rainfall has aided crews fighting the fires, allowing them to establish a containment line, but officials caution the ground could still be hot and fires could spring back up.

CLICK HERE for an interactive map of active fires.

An official with Sevier County Schools says schools will reopen on Thursday and each school will have counselors available for grieving students and staff. Most schools will also be open on Friday.

In terms of relief efforts, officials with the Red Cross in Sevier County say an outpouring of in-kind donations has clogged the offices at this time. They are working to develop a centralized location where items can be kept. They ask donors to hold onto in-kind donations (food, water, etc.) until a central location is established.

A curfew for the city will continue from 6 p.m. until 6 a.m., and a water boil advisory remains in effect for the area, except for those who live east of town. People seeking updates on the fires can now visit a Facebook page created by the county titled Chimney 2 Fire.

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