Dollywood Evacuated Due to Wildfires in Gatlinburg, Tennessee
Dolly Parton's signature theme park and the surrounding areas have been evacuated due to the wildfires that are currently raging in rural Tennessee. Dollywood, Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge in Tennessee are under an evacuation notice.
Authorities issued a mandatory evacuation for Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge on Monday night (Nov. 28), due to the wildfires sweeping the area in and around Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Police had been going door-to-door in one area to warn residents and ask them to evacuate voluntarily, but after the wind picked up and fallen trees began to spark more fires from downed power lines, the flames worsened to the point where it became an all-out evacuation. CNN reports that 14 different fires were burning in and around Gatlinburg, fueled by strong winds and the southeast's worst drought in almost ten years.
“The wind is not helping, and the rain is not here yet," Gatlinburg Fire Chief Greg Miller said in a press conference Monday. “These are the worst possible conditions imaginable.”
ABC News has confirmed that Dollywood was being evacuated Monday evening due to the fire. Pete Owens, a representative for the park, says the guests staying in cabins at the popular tourist destination have been relocated, but as of Monday night, the guests at the actual resort had not.
WHIO Chief Meteorologist Eric Elwell tweeted a picture showing exactly how bad the fires are in the area, along with other experts and people who are fleeing the area:
The National Park Service expected the fire to grow larger and closed several roads in response, including U.S .Highway 441 from Gatlinburg, Tenn., to Cherokee, N.C. Highway 441 runs through the center of the park. Tennessee Emergency Management Agency spokesperson Dean Flener tells ABC News that fire reached "right on the doorstep" of Dollywood Monday night, but so far the park has not been directly impacted by the blaze. The park is located 8 miles outside of Gatlinburg.
Nashville News 2 anchor Eric Egan tweeted late Monday that TEMA had declared a state of Level 3 emergency in Gatlinburg, with 30 different structures on fire, including a 16-story hotel. He followed up on Tuesday morning with another tweet saying TEMA estimates more than 14,000 people have been evacuated. There have so far been three victims with severe burns, and one with burns to their face, but no fatalities have yet been reported.
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