Tennessee wildfires leave at least 3 dead, mayor confirms

A mayor confirmed on Tuesday that the wildfires currently raging through the Gatlinburg, Tennessee, area have left three people dead, the Associated Press reported in a tweet. 

CNN reported on Tuesday that "at least 14 wildfires" in and near Gatlinburg had destroyed homes and businesses, forced many residents to evacuate and had left thousands without power. 

According to CNN, the fires began when "a wildfire from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park spread rapidly into nearby communities" Monday afternoon. High winds and foliage left dry after a severe drought in the area helped the fires spread quickly.

On Monday evening, staff at Gatlinburg's Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies evacuated the premises, leaving the animals alone inside, CNN reported.

Residents gather to help fight fires in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.Brian Blanco/Getty Images

While the fight to control the flames is still underway, Gatlinburg Fire Chief Greg Miller told reporters on Tuesday, "The likes of this has never been seen here. But the worst is definitely over with," the Knoxville News Sentinel reported.