Update on Ocoee Whitewater Center fire

Release Date: May 3, 2022

Contact(s): Ashley Miller, Public Information and Community Engagement, (423) 506-1633

CLEVELAND, TENN., May 3, 2022 — Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, ATF, and US Forest Service Law Enforcement & Investigations have concluded their on-the-ground examination of the Ocoee Whitewater Center. The cause of the fire remains undetermined, but investigation is ongoing.

Currently, the Cherokee National Forest is focused on securing the site and ensuring public safety. These efforts should not impact the status of the river, which is open for commercial and private boaters to enjoy.

The Ocoee Whitewater Center and surrounding area is closed, as are associated trails:

  • Rhododendron Trail #332
  • Bear Paw Loop Trail #334
  • Old Copper Road Trail #333
  • Connector trail from Chestnut Loop #335 to Bear Paw Loop Trail #334

The public is also asked not to operate small, unauthorized unmanned arial systems (UAS), such as drones, around the area.

"This is a difficult loss for us and for the whole community”, said Michael Wright, Acting Forest Supervisor for the Cherokee National Forest. “We are grateful for the diligent work from TBI and ATF."

Early Tuesday morning, the Ocoee Whitewater Center caught fire and was destroyed. No one was injured in the fire. The Ocoee Whitewater Center opened to serve as a venue for the 1996 Olympics and was a key recreation site on the forest for about 300,000 visitors a year.