Wildfires have ripped through parts of Tennessee, most notably Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, with indescribable devastation. About 100 homes have been damaged or destroyed by flames from spreading wildfires, state emergency officials said. More than 14,000 people were evacuated from Gatlinburg alone, with hundreds of them seeking refuge in emergency shelters.
The Sevier County Emergency Management Agency indicated that the Westgate Resorts, made up of more than 100 buildings, had been destroyed, and Black Bear Falls was believed to have lost every cabin.
The agency also said that Ober Gatlinburg had been destroyed, but the amusement park and ski resort posted on its Facebook page just after 9 a.m. ET that “our property is okay,” and the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency said a video appears to show the facility is unburned.
In the town of Pigeon Forge, its main attraction Dollywood — named after country superstar Dolly Parton — was not damaged, a spokesman said, but the fire was coming perilously close.
The theme park itself was not destroyed, although more than a dozen cabins it manages were burned. Families staying in 50 rooms at the park’s DreamMoore Resort as well as 19 cabins on the property had to be evacuated.
The park suspended its operations through at least Wednesday.
“I have been watching the terrible fires in the Great Smoky Mountains and I am heartbroken,” Parton said in a statement, adding, “It is a blessing that my Dollywood theme park, the DreamMore Resort and so many businesses in Pigeon Forge have been spared.”
So far, and thankfully, no fatalities have been reported.