GATLINBURG, Tenn. (AP) – Victims of a deadly 2016 wildfire that started in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park before it burned through a Tennessee tourist town have another chance to seek compensation from the federal government. .
Several lawsuits claim that park employees failed to warn the city of Gatlinburg and its residents of the danger until it was too late. A federal judge last year dismissed the lawsuits, ruling that the plaintiffs were not specific enough in pre-trial claims about what they were alleging.
On Thursday, a three-judge panel of the 6th US Circuit Court of Appeals vacated that ruling, sending the case back to the lower court.
The fire killed 14 people and caused an estimated $2 billion in damage, including about 2,500 buildings damaged or destroyed. The fire started on less than half an acre in a remote section of the park during the Thanksgiving holidays, when the park was understaffed.
Photo: The aftermath of the fire in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. (Michael Patrick/Knoxville News Sentinel via AP, File)
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