Authors: Joseph J. O'BrienIn late fall of 2016, an outbreak of wildfires occurred in the southern Appalachians in the midst of an extreme drought, with unprecedented fire behavior. There were thousands of starts, most of which were suppressed, though 16 fires grew larger than ~500 ha burning more than 64,000 ha. Included in this tally was the Chimney Tops 2 fire where there was a tragic loss of life. While most of the starts were human caused, the largest fire, the Rough Ridge fire was ignited by lightning. In this session we will discuss several aspects of these unprecedented fires including fire history, climatic influences, ecological effects and economic impact. We will also introduce the use of the incident command system to manage the large, multifaceted research effort initiated by the Southern Research Station of the USFS.