2 Canadians dead in Tennessee wildfire
Published Friday, December 2, 2016 11:52AM EST
Last Updated Friday, December 2, 2016 2:57PM EST
Two Canadian nationals have been killed after a wildfire ravaged parts of Tennessee.
The wildfire, which began on Monday, has destroyed hundreds of homes and businesses in Gatlinburg.
Reports say John Tegler, 71, and Marilyn Tegler, 70, both of Canada, are among 13 people who have died in the fire.
The Teglers are originally from Woodstock, Ont. Their son-in-law Dave Lapointe told The Canadian Press that the couple was at their vacation home in Smoky Mountains to celebrate the U.S. Thanksgiving long weekend. After the wildfire broke out, the couple had attempted to flee.
“They didn’t make it out of the mountains,” Lapointe said. “They were found close to the home.”
The couple would have celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary this year.
Lapointe called his in-laws, who had dual American and Canadian citizenship, “two good people.”
“They were very family oriented, all around nice people,” he told The Canadian Press.
He said the couple also had another residence in Georgia.
“They were going to go back to Georgia for a few weeks and return for Christmas up here. It's just a tragic end. They were together and they were in a place they liked to be."
Lapointe said his wife, the couple’s daughter, is now on her way to Tennessee with her brother. The couple also had another daughter.
Other victims of the wildfire include a woman who was vacationing in Gatlinburg, and a Memphis couple separated from their three sons. The young men are recovering in hospital.
Officials say the wildfire spread from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park into Gatlinburg due to hurricane-force winds.
More than 14,000 people in Gatlinburg were forced to leave as the tourist city shut down.
Officials believe the fire was initially sparked by a person.
With files from The Associated Press and The Canadian Press