Gatlinburg, Tennessee is in ruins after firefighters battled flames for over 24 hours. There seems to be very little left for residents to go home to. Tourists are stranded without luggage and thousands slept in shelters last night.
Dolly Parton’s Dollywood was barely spared, as the fire stopped just before it encroached upon the park. That Dollywood is still standing is nearly miraculous. While a few cabins on the property were lost, the park was untouched.
Gatlinburg, Tennessee and the surrounding area have suffered major losses due to wildfires. So have many other areas in the Great Smoky Mountains. In North Carolina, Tennessee, and Georgia, there have been at least 24 major wildfires this fall. All taking a toll on mountain residents, tourists, forests, and wildlife.
Dolly Parton was well aware of the wildfires encroaching upon her county. Fires have been raging in the Smoky Mountains for weeks, due to an extended drought in the South Eastern United States. Most people who live in these areas have been painfully aware of the dangers, and the unusual conditions that led to them. Drought, dry fall leaves, dry wood, and high winds all played a role in these fires.
The Gatlinburg, Tennessee fire brought out the hero in many residents, tourists, and firefighters who helped their neighbors and strangers alike to evacuate quickly. They even worked to help animals in the area. Everyone who survived this fire has a story and here are a few from twitter.
— Robin Meade (@RobinMeade) November 29, 2016
Troopers walked into areas of Gatlinburg, Tn that were surrounded by fire to remove those who were trapped by flames. pic.twitter.com/9r2lkAVy19
— TN Highway Patrol (@TNHighwayPatrol) November 29, 2016
— Animal Life (@AnimaILife) November 30, 2016
— Darren Reese (@GSunDarrenReese) November 29, 2016
The Gatlinburg, Tennessee fire was by far the most frightening fire, since it put so many lives at risk, and took the lives of at least three residents. Survivors will need help in the coming months to put their lives back together.
Gatlinburg, Tennessee along with the rest of Sevier County are accepting donations at this address, according to WBIR, who has a complete list of relief efforts.
Gatlinburg Relief Fund
P.O. Box 1910
Pigeon Forge, TN 37868
Call 865-453-2650 for more information.
Dolly Parton appeared alongside Smokey Bear in a recent public awareness campaign, pleading with the public to be careful in this dry season, which is unparalleled in recent history for this time of year. People quotes Dolly Parton’s fire prevention message which was released Sunday.
“We had a beautiful fall this year in the Smoky Mountains, but this extended drought has resulted in high wildfire danger. As dry as it is, please help firefighters avoid wildfires.”
The cause of the Gatlinburg, Tennessee fire is still unknown, but according to USA Today, it spread from a much higher elevation, on Chimney Tops Trail, in the national park. Embers from the fire above were driven by high winds down onto the rooftops of homes and businesses below, starting at around 6 p.m. Monday.
RELATED REPORTS FROM THE INQUISITR
Dolly Parton grew up in Sevier County, near the towns of Sevierville, Pigeon Forge, and Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Parton’s theme park, Dollywood is also in Sevier County near Pigeon Forge. Though more fortunate than Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge was also heavily impacted by the windswept fires.
Gatlinburg, Tennessee and the surrounding county including DollyParton’s hometown are thankful to have survived the firestorm but individuals may need assistance to recover.
[Featured Image by Erik Schelzig/AP Images]