Every year, thousands of people head to East Tennessee to appreciate its natural beauty. The region is home to the Great Smoky Mountains and small resort towns, such as Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge.
But on November 28, that peaceful tranquility was interrupted by wildfires that raged through the region. Although they are now becoming contained, the fires have left a major path of destruction behind them. Nearly 2,000 structures have been destroyed and 14 people have lost their lives.
The Holmes family was one of many who lost their home in the fires. As Rob Holmes shared in a Facebook post on November 30, they were forced to leave their home two days prior when the fire surrounded them:
“Literally all H— broke loose. The trees snapped and the power lines dangled over our driveway. We could not get the cars out and the smoke was so bad our 18 month son Wyatt was having a hard time breathing. Power company sad [sic] we had fire around us and to get out however we could. So we left with the clothes we were wearing and put a blanky around Wyatt’s face [and] we headed out in the wind and smoke.”
The family saved their cat and four dogs, but there was one pet they had to leave behind…their beloved pig, Charles. After hearing from a neighbor that their home had been completely destroyed, Rob had little hope that they’d find Charles. But that’s when the neighbor told him that Charles was still alive.
Although he wanted to check on Charles, Rob wasn’t able to get to his property right away. When he finally arrived, he said that he couldn’t believe what he saw:
“Charles had burrowed in the mud to survive. The Lord let us keep Charles how else could he survived 800 degree +temperatures. The alloy rims were melted off the car…He was not well…he wouldn’t eat and was dehydrated with some burns.”
Rob provides regular updates on Charles on his Facebook, and says that he is now recovering at the University of Tennessee veterinary hospital. “He needs everyone’s love and prayer[s] right now,” he wrote. “He survived the biggest wild fire [sic] in the smokies in the last 100 years…My family and I have no words except Thank you and GOD BLESS.”
Along with his post, Rob shared some photos of where their home once stood. He also shared a couple of photos showing Charles in the spot that he found him when he returned to assess the damage. The fact that Charles survived the fires can only be described as a miracle.
Well today I rescued Charles the pig❤our other family member we didn't want to leave behind.But we were trapped at our…
For the Holmes family and others who lost their homes in the fires, rebuilding is going to be a lengthy and expensive process. That’s why Dolly Parton set up the My People Fund.
Parton was born and raised in Sevier County, which is where her Dollywood theme park is located. In the wake of the fires, Parton wanted to do everything she could to help the people of her home county. She established the My People Fund, which will provide assistance to families who lost their homes in the fires. The goal is to provide each one of those families with $1000 every month for six months to help them get back on their feet.
100% of all proceeds raised through the My People Fund will go toward helping people in the same situation as the Holmes family. If you’d like to make a donation, you can do so by following this link to the Dollywood Foundation website.
Also, if you’d like to donate to help with Charles’ vet care, there is a GoFundMe page set up for him. Just click here to make a donation.
Please keep the Holmes family and all of East Tennessee in your prayers as they start to rebuild after this tragic event.