Insurance companies sue government over Gatlinburg fire

Gatlinburg Tennessee Welcome Center sign, Photo Date: 11/29/16

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — More than 40 insurance companies are suing the federal government over its handling of a 2016 Tennessee wildfire that killed 14 people and destroyed or damaged more than 2,500 buildings in Sevier County.

The Knoxville News Sentinel reports the companies are seeking more than $450 million for claims they paid after high winds swept flames from a wildfire in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park into Gatlinburg and its surrounding areas.

Five lawsuits filed last week in federal court in Knoxville claim National Park Service officials violated their own policies by letting the blaze burn despite prolonged drought and predicted high winds. It says they also failed to monitor the fire or warn residents of the danger.

The park faces a separate lawsuit by victims of the fire.

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