Dolly Parton’s Dollywood theme park was spared by the fast-spreading fire that began ravaging Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, Tennessee early this week. However, many Sevier County residents weren’t so lucky — hundreds have lost their homes, and the fire has claimed seven lives.
Dolly Parton, a Tennessee native who grew up in the Great Smoky Mountains, is doing her part to help the victims of the fire. On Wednesday night, Parton’s Dollywood Foundation announced that it has created a special fund for residents of Gatlinburg, Tennessee and surrounding areas who lost everything to the devastating wildfires.
Wildfires in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, force evacuations: “It was like driving into hell” https://t.co/iuBjhDpqnz
— The New York Times (@nytimes) November 30, 2016
“As you may know by now, there have been terrible wildfires in the Great Smoky Mountains, the same mountains where I grew up and where my people call home,” Dolly Parton writes in a statement on the Dollywood Foundation website.
“I have always believed that charity begins at home. That’s why I’ve asked my Dollywood Companies – Including the Dollywood Theme Park, and DreamMore Resort; My dinner theater attractions including Dixie Stampede and Lumberjack Adventure; and my Dollywood Foundation to help me establish the ‘My People Fund.'”
According to USA Today, Dolly Parton’s fund was created to help the victims of the fire get back on their feet. All of the families that lost their homes in the Gatlinburg, Tennessee fire will receive $1,000 per month for six months. Those who would like to donate to Dolly Parton’s relief effort can do so by visiting the Dollywood Foundation website.
— Dolly Parton (@DollyParton) December 1, 2016
On Wednesday morning, rain aided firefighters in somewhat taming what is left of the blaze that has left hundreds homeless and thousands temporarily displaced. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, around 700 structures in Gatlinburg, Tennessee and surrounding areas were damaged by the fire. The quick-moving blaze has claimed seven lives that officials are aware of, but there’s fear that the death toll will rise. It’s believed that the wildfire was human-caused.
— Huffington Post (@HuffingtonPost) November 29, 2016
According to ABC News, a spokesperson with the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency said that the fire was “right on the doorstep” of Dolly Parton’s theme park, which is located in Pigeon Forge. However, firefighters worked through the night on Monday to keep the flames from reaching Dollywood. Dolly Parton told Entertainment Tonight that she’s been praying for the men and women who put their lives on the line to stop the fire.
“I have been watching the terrible fires in the Great Smoky Mountains and I am heartbroken. I am praying for all the families affected by the fire and the firefighters who are working so hard to keep everyone safe.”
— CNN Breaking News (@cnnbrk) November 29, 2016
While Dollywood was not damaged by the fire, a rep for the theme park revealed that “more than a dozen cabins managed through Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Cabins were damaged or destroyed.” Tourists staying in the cabins and at Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort were evacuated on Monday night, and the Knoxville News Sentinel reports the eagles and other birds of prey that live in Dollywood’s bird habitat were successfully captured and evacuated on Tuesday morning. According to WBIR, Dolly Parton’s popular theme park will open its doors to the public at 2 p.m. on Friday.
On Tuesday night, Dolly Parton appeared on NBC’s The Voice to perform her hit song “Jolene” with Miley Cyrus and Pentatonix. Cyrus – who is Parton’s goddaughter – later shared a photo of their performance on Instagram and sent her love to those affected by the Gatlinburg, Tennessee fire.
“Love my fairy god mother @dollyparton and sending protective energy to the ever so sacred Dollywood and all of the homes/folks in TN who are experiencing this devastating fire!” Miley Cyrus wrote.
In addition to donating to Dolly Parton’s “My People Fund,” those who want to help the victims of the Gatlinburg, Tennessee fire can help provide disaster relief by texting REDCROSS to 90999 to donate ten dollars to the American Red Cross.
[Featured Image by Rick Diamond/Getty Images]