GATLINBURG, Tenn. — Jon and Janet Summers are among the 11 people confirmed dead as a result of the Tennessee wildfires. Their three sons, Branson, Jared and Wesley, are all at the hospital being treated for burns — one is in critical condition.
“I am sorry to report that at 4:45 pm CST, the Sevier County Sheriff’s department has reported that the Medical Examiner has confirmed that two of the bodies found in North Chalet Village were Jon and Janet Summers,” Jim Summers, Jon’s brother, posted on Facebook Thursday. “Their 3 sons are aware. Your prayers are appreciated.”
The family was in Gatlinburg celebrating their twin sons’ birthday when the wildfires started, WBIR reports. The Summers tried to drive away when the fires began to spread, but their path was blocked by debris and they had to flee on foot. Once they did, they were split up and later discovered by officials.
A crowdfunding account has been set up in the family’s honor. So far, it has raised $49,000 of the campaign’s $100,000 goal.
The wildfires, which have burned across the eastern Tennessee since Monday, have killed at least 11 people and damaged or destroyed more than 700 buildings.
FOX8’s Brad Jones, who has been covering the fires all week, posted about the recently-deceased couple Friday morning:
A sad story from the Gatlinburg fires – Jon and Janet Summers have now been confirmed dead. They were among the missing – their three sons are all at Vanderbilt Health being treated for burns. One is still in critical condition. The family had gone to Gatlinburg for a birthday celebration when the fires rolled in. They tried to escape, road was blocked, got out of their car and were separated from each other.
The family released a statement saying – “We are so grateful for the outpouring of love and support by so many people, and look forward to the continued recovery of Branson, Jared and Wesley.”