As the horrifying and tragic fire that has destroyed homes and businesses in and around Gatlinburg, Tennessee spread, it reached new areas of the Great Smokey Mountains and has begun to threaten Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.
Pigeon Forge is the hometown of legendary country artist Dolly Parton and in that same are is where she built one of the most beloved Tennessee attractions: Dollywood.
The fire has swept across thousands of acres of land, torching everything in its path – and now, it’s creeping up on Pigeon Forge, forcing the residents to evacuate and pray for the best.
With so much of her life and history built in and around the Pigeon Forge area, Dolly Parton posted a message on her website about how it has affected her and the people of Tennessee.
The 70-year-old legend explained that she has been keeping a close eye on the Gatlinburg Fire and how it has continued spreading with a harsh drought and massive winds keeping it fueled.
“I have been watching the terrible fires in the Great Smoky Mountains and I am heartbroken,” Her statement reads. “I am praying for all the families affected by the fire and the firefighters who are working so hard to keep everyone safe. It is a blessing that my Dollywood theme park, the DreamMore Resort and so many businesses in Pigeon Forge have been spared.”
The initial blaze began as a wildfire within the confines of the Great Smokey Mountains National Park, but quickly spread outside and gathered momentum as incredible gusts of wind began pushing it toward populated areas.
More than 14,000 people had been evacuated before the fires began to approach Parton’s Dollywood theme park and Pigeon Forge and more than 30 structures were burning as the fire continued to sweep through Eastern Tennessee.
Guests of Dollywood and the adjacent DreamMore Resort have been evacuated as a precaution against the fires and her park remains closed throughout Wednesday, November 30th.
Due to area wildfires, we have suspended park operation for Wed., Nov. 30 and lodging is open on a limited basis. https://t.co/DuVshyGE73
— Dollywood Parks & Resorts (@Dollywood) November 29, 2016
Gatlinburg and the areas surrounding it have been most affected by the fire and, at one point, guests were trapped inside one of the local hotels as they watched the massive flames come all the way up to parking lot. They stood around holding masks to their faces as the air filled with smoke. They could not leave the hotel because flaming trees had fallen down blocking the only way out.
— Logan chanel Rose (@loganchanelrose) November 28, 2016
Read the full message from Dolly Parton below and watch the video recently uploaded of her partnership with Smokey The Bear about preventing wildfires.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Gatlinburg and Eastern Tennessee during this terrifying time.
To help the American Red Cross with their relief efforts, you can text REDCROSS to 90999 to donate $10 to their disaster relief program.