KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee officials say they have lost recordings of calls made to the State Emergency Operations Center during the first day of the wildfires that destroyed much of Gatlinburg.
The Knoxville News Sentinel reports the center’s 86 telephone lines were overwhelmed on Nov. 28, 2016. Recordings were not preserved because a backup system had failed in October 2016 without anyone noticing.
Recordings from the telephone lines could have provided a glimpse into how state officials handled the wildfires that destroyed more than 2,400 buildings and killed 14 people in one of the state’s most popular tourist towns.
The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency is not required to record phone calls, but does so for training purposes. Emergency centers in Gatlinburg and Sevier and Knox counties do not record phone calls.