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Memphis Couple Missing After Tennessee Wildfire Among 11 Dead, Family Says

Eyewitness Accounts From the Tennessee Wildfire 0:56

Jon and Janet Summers, the Memphis couple featured in an NBC News report on people missing in the Tennessee wildfires, are among the 11 people confirmed dead, their family said Thursday.

Jim Summers, Jon Summers' brother, reported the news on a Facebook page the family set up after the couple couldn't be found this week. He wrote that the Sevier County medical examiner confirmed Thursday afternoon that "two of the bodies found in North Chalet Village were Jon and Janet Summers."

Authorities said Thursday night that 11 people in all are confirmed to have died in the fires that erupted across Tennessee's Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

The Summerses, both of whom were 61, were visiting the resort town of Gatlinburg for a birthday celebration with their adult sons, Branson, Wesley and Jared, when the fires exploded on Monday.

IMAGE: Janet and Jon Summers
Janet and Jon Summers of Memphis, Tennessee, who were visiting their sons in Gatlinburg, are unaccounted for in this week's wildfires.

The family got a call from the landlord and were told to evacuate about 9 p.m. Monday, James Summers, the couple's nephew, told NBC News on Wednesday.

"At that point, the fire was essentially all around them," he said.

The couple's sons were found in some woods and were being treated for serious injuries in the hospital. Jim Summers said in his post Thursday that they were "aware" that their parents had died.

"Your prayers are appreciated," he wrote.

The state Emergency Management Agency confirmed Thursday night that the death total had risen to 11. The family another victim identified her to NBC News as Alice Hagler, 70.

Image: Alice Hagler
Officials identified Alice Hagler, 70, as one of the victims of the fire that devastated Sevier County in East Tennessee. Courtesy of Hagler family

Hagler was last heard from on Monday night, when she was on the phone with a son at her home in Gatlinburg and the line went dead, NBC station WBIR of Knoxville reported.

"My mother called me frantically that the house was on fire, yelling that the house was on fire, and I told her to get out of the house," James Wood told the station. He tried desperately to return to the cabin where they lived, but he found that the inferno was too intense.

As families continued trying to find their loved ones, Sevier County Mayor Larry Waters offered some good news Thursday: Search crews have found "quite a few" of the 70 or so people who were reported missing.

IMAGE: Flag in Gatlinburg, Tennessee
A U.S. flags hangs at the entrance to Gatlinburg, Tennessee, on Thursday. AP

Seventy-four people have been treated for injuries, and some remain in hospitals, officials said. The Emergency Management Agency said almost 5,000 customers remained without power Thursday night in Sevier County.

Drenching rain on Wednesday helped firefighters beat back the massive blaze, which has burned more than 17,000 acres and damaged or destroyed more than 700 structures in Sevier County — about 300 of them in Gatlinburg — according to the joint federal-state-local incident command team coordinating the fire response.

As many as 14,000 people were forced to evacuate their homes, authorities said.

IMAGE: Destroyed car in Gatlinburg, Tennessee
A burned car Wednesday in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. AP

The main Chimney Tops 2 fire, which started last week and is believed to have been human-caused, was at zero containment Thursday night, the command team said.

Authorities said crews were making significant progress, declaring Thursday that no fires were still burning in Gatlinburg, although some hot spots remained to be tamped down. Many Sevier County businesses were back open Thursday, and all but two county schools will be open Friday.

With rescue crews expected to finish searching Gatlinburg later Thursday night, city officials said owners, residents and renters will be allowed "limited access" to their properties, businesses and homes in some areas of the town Friday morning.

Related: Dolly Parton Offers $1,000 a Month to Tennessee Families Left Homeless in Wildfire

Gatlinburg Mayor Mike Werner, who lost his own home, described the community as "mountain tough, telling WBIR: "It's a huge bump in the road, but we're going to be OK. We're going to be OK."