GATLINBURG, Tennessee (WDEF) As we celebrate freedom this holiday weekend, here is an update on Freedom of Information in Tennessee.
In November, 14 people died in the wildfire that swept down a mountain and through the town of Gatlinburg.
Ever since, several media outlets and private citizens have tried to see public records on the evacuation notices issued by Sevier County.
Now a widower from the fire has asked for the records and is threatening to go to court to get them.
Still officials have not released anything seven months later.
Here is an account from the Tennessee Coalition for Open Government on the seven month struggle to get the public documents released.
But here is their conclusion on the delays:
“One could speculate that TEMA might already have gathered and reviewed its communication records in the seven months after the fire. Or that these records about public warnings are of such public interest that they would be shared freely.
But so far, sharing information freely about the Gatlinburg wildfires appears to be a path the state is determined not to take.”