Fanned by strong winds and the Southeast’s worst drought in nearly a decade, at least 14 fires burned in and around Gatlinburg, Tennessee, forcing evacuations from the popular tourist area and nearby communities.
“If you’re a person of prayer, we could use your prayers,” said Gatlinburg Fire Chief Greg Miller Monday evening as crews battled wind gusts of up to 70 mph
On Monday, a wildfire from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park spread rapidly into communities around it. By early Tuesday, emergency officials said about 100 homes were affected by the blaze
Flames blew into Gatlinburg, scorching at least 30 buildings in the city, including a 16-story hotel and an apartment complex. The fire was also near the edge of Dollywood, the theme park owned by Dolly Parton in Pigeon Forge
According to the Dollywood website, the park will be closed Tuesday through Friday. It says the park will reopen on Saturday
There were no deaths or severe injuries reported, according to the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency. But a male evacuee reportedly suffered burn wounds and an accident involving a fire truck may have also caused minor injuries, the agency said
Authorities issued evacuations from Gatlinburg and nearby areas, including the north end of Pigeon Forge: “Nobody is allowed into the city at this time. If you are currently in Gatlinburg and are able to evacuate evacuate immediately.