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Shutdown closes Great Smoky Mountains and other parks

(WBIR- Great Smoky Mountains) As the government shutdown affects the entire nation, in East Tennessee the impact is especially obvious in the National Parks. Visitors who normally travel to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to view the fall colors will only encounter orange cones, blue lights, and the bright yellow vests of Rangers turning traffic away during the federal government shutdown.

5 Sevierville house fires officially ruled arson

Authorities in Sevierville confirmed Monday that an arsonist was to blame for five house fires in one night.

On September 23, firefighters were called to a fire on Apple Ridge Way around 3:45 in the morning. While they were there, fires started at four more homes on the same road.

Potential government shutdown threatens Smokies

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(WBIR) A looming government shutdown scheduled to start 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, would have a major impact on the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, during its second busiest month of the year.

Fundraiser held for hospitalized Sevierville Police Officer

(WBIR - Sevierville) A Sevierville Police Officer hospitalized in North Carolina since July got some extra support tonight, hundreds of miles away, back home here in East Tennessee.

Friends, family and community members held a spaghetti fundraiser Saturday night for Officer Ben Headrick.

Officer Headrick suddenly became ill while attending a wedding in July and has been hospitalized ever since. Money raised will help support him and his family.

Invasive Kudzu Bugs spread to more counties

An invasive insect from Asia is moving deeper into East Tennessee and into Kentucky.

Back in July, we told you about the spread of the Kudzu Bug. It first showed up in Tennessee last year.

Kudzu Bugs feed on the Kudzu plant, but also eat soybean and other crops, reducing yields by as much as nearly 50 percent.

The bugs have already made their way through several local counties, including Knox, Sevier, Blount, Loudon, Roane and Anderson counties.

Rangers catch ginseng poachers in GSMNP

Rangers caught several people this holiday weekend poaching a certain type of plant known for its high value.

Ginseng is poached for its root, which can often sell for hundreds of dollars. 

Within the past two weeks, park officials have recovered several hundred roots from both the Tennessee and North Carolina sides of the park.

Sevierville motorcyclist killed in Chapman Hwy crash

(WBIR - Sevier County) THP confirmed Bryan Owen, 55, was killed early Sunday afternoon after being hit by a van traveling in the opposite direction in Sevier County.

The fatal crash happened around 1:15 p.m. at the Shiloh Church Road intersection on Chapman Highway.

A THP report stated a van, driven by Knoxville-resident Stephen Wandell, was traveling southbound on the highway when the driver tried to stop to avoid striking another vehicle which was making a left turn.