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Gilreath & Associates, Gordon Ball LLC & The Baker Law Firm File First Wrongful Death and Property Loss Litigation on Behalf of Two Victims of the Chimney Tops 2 Fire

Law firms represent hundreds alleging widespread negligence by National Park Service allowed fire to spread into Gatlinburg and surrounding areas

Knoxville, Tenn. — May 24, 2018 — The Knoxville law firms Gilreath & Associates, Gordon Ball LLC, and The Baker Law Firm filed a lawsuit on Wednesday in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee. The lawsuit alleges that a series of negligent actions or failures to act over a six-day period by National Park Service employee Greg Salansky and Great Smoky Mountains National Park leadership resulted in the deaths of Constance M. Reed and her two young daughters, Chloe and Lily, personal injuries to husband and father Michael B. Reed, and the destruction of Reed’s home and belongings, as well as the home and belongings of another man, James L. England, Jr.
The 148-page, 410-paragraph complaint details how National Park Service employees, led by Salansky, who discovered the fire and became the park’s incident manager, made one critical mistake after another — from the moment the Chimney Tops 2 Fire was first discovered on Wednesday, November 23, 2016 up until the fire, enhanced by long-predicted near hurricane-force winds, escaped park boundaries and engulfed Gatlinburg and other local areas. 

Park employees failed to warn local officials, residents and visitors of the fire’s imminent danger, preventing local fire officials from preparing for the fire as well as local residents and visitors from protecting their property or evacuating.
According to the lawsuit, Salansky, with little experience managing wildfires in the park, repeatedly failed to follow settled fire-management policies from day one of the fire and continually ignored those policies until the fire exploded and left the park five days later, on Monday, November 28, 2016. Salansky’s actions went unchecked and against policy as he functioned in all of the critical command-roles and controlled the park’s fire resources.

The lawsuit further alleges that Salansky and other fire managers neglected to monitor the Chimney Tops 2 Fire for five consecutive nights after the fire was discovered, despite knowing that ground fuels, severe drought conditions, and a high-wind warning posed an increased threat risk. They treated what was initially a fire less than an acre in size as a prescribed burn, seeking to contain it within a 410-acre “box,” rather than suppressing it.

This allowed the fire to grow largely unchecked when it could have been and should have been simply extinguished by water and firefighters. The fire ultimately burned over 17,000 acres, killed 14 people, injured nearly 200 more, and destroyed approximately 2,500 homes or structures.
This lawsuit asserts the first legal claim for damages in court relating to the Chimney Tops 2 Fire. There will likely be hundreds more in the coming months. Mr. Reed seeks $13.5 million against the government for the lives of his wife and daughters and loss of his home, while Mr. England seeks $1.3 million for the destruction of his home and property.

About Gilreath & Associates

Founder Sidney W. Gilreath, attorneys and support staff at Gilreath & Associates passionately help victims in high profile, nationwide product liability and personal injury lawsuits. With offices in Knoxville, Nashville and Memphis, the firm also represents clients for injuries caused by negligence from car accidents, truck accidents, medical malpractice, defective products and birth injury. Submit your case details online to Gilreath & Associates today at http://www.sidgilreath.com/

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