Following the Gatlinburg wildfires which occurred in 2016 that left 14 people killed and more than 2,000 structures destroyed, a group of more than 40 insurance companies filed for claims amounting to more than $450 million. The lawsuit was filed earlier last week.
According to the Knoxville News Sentinel, the damages sought by the insurers aimed to address the claims they initially filed and paid for after the Great Smoky Mountains National Park wildfires affected the neighboring towns of Gatlinburg and other nearby areas. The incident which happened on a Thanksgiving weekend in 2016 left 14 people dead and more than 2,500 infrastructures destroyed. Claims during this 2016 event reportedly totaled to a whopping $1 billion.
Having heard no response from the federal government, insurance companies banded and filed five lawsuits in the federal court in Knoxville, Tennessee, says The San Francisco Chronicle.
The lawsuits were filed under the Federal Torts Claims Act, states Insurance Business Mag, “for damages arising from the negligent acts or omissions on the part of employees or agents of the Department of Interior (DOI) and/or National Park Service (NPS) in response to the Chimney Tops 2 Fire in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.”
Insurers said that their claims reached an all-time high because of “certain actions, omissions, and otherwise negligent conduct,” resulting in “substantial property losses,” reports Insurance Business Mag.
Fire management officer Greg Salansky reported seeing smoke on November 23, 2016. With most employees on leave for Thanksgiving, Salansky failed to call in reinforcements, reveals the San Francisco Chronicle. Park officials are also being accused of negligence over monitoring the fires allowing it to grow over eight times the original size.
Prior to the lawsuit filed by insurance companies, a lawsuit filed by the victims of the fire had already been set in motion against the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.