The Southeast's worst drought in almost a decade no doubt will make it hard for firefighters to corral at least 14 fires in and around Gatlinburg, Tennessee, a popular tourist gateway to Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
In all, more than 14,000 residents and tourists were forced to evacuate the tourist city in the mountains, where some hotspots persisted and a curfew was in effect overnight Tuesday.
Officials have recovered the bodies of three more people killed in the wildfires in Sevier County, Tennessee. Early reports from crews on the ground say that hundreds of structures may be lost.
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The fire had been going in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. She tells people to avoid burning leaves and parking vehicles on dry grass, and warns that even a campfire can spark a wildfire.
Officials say there are about 1,200 people sheltering at the Gatlinburg Community Center and the Rocky Top Sports Park.
Buddy McLean said he watched Monday from a deserted Gatlinburg street as flames surrounded his 26-acre hotel nestled in the mountains.
Meanwhile, the fire also reached the edge of Dollywood, where officials evacuated cabins along with the park's newest addition, the DreamMore Resort. "It was like we were in hell", said Linda Monholland, who was working at Park View Inn in Gatlinburg when she and five other people fled on foot.
Since then, he's been in a shelter in Pigeon Forge, trying to find out what happened to Constance and their daughters, Chloe, 12, and Lily, 9.
"We urge the public to pray", Miller told reporters.
A mandatory evacuation order remained in place for Gatlinburg as firefighters monitored a few remaining hot spots in the area near the Great Smoky Mountains, and officials gave no timetable for when people may be allowed back into the city.
Knoxville's WBIR news spoke with Ryan Desear this morning, CEO of Ripley's Aquarium where over 10,000 animals are housed on Gatlinburg's downtown strip. A Red Cross spokesperson said that the decrease has happened as a result of many local hotels providing rooms for some of those who have received assistance from the Red Cross because of the fire.
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Officials have said at least seven people died in the wildfires but they have not positively identified any of the dead.
We are not aware of an official estimate of the number of structures destroyed in the fire since Tuesday morning's report from the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) of approximately 100 homes in Sevier County Tennessee having been either damaged or destroyed.
Preliminary surveys indicate that the fires have wiped out the more than 100 buildings of the Westgate Smoky Mountain Resort & Spa.
Residents and tourists in Gatlinburg, Tennessee were being evacuated Monday night after a wildfire in Great Smoky Mountains National Park moved toward the popular tourist town.
Scott said crews may return as early as this afternoon.
Dollywood suspended park operations at least through Wednesday.
"I thank the Lord we did", Joyce said.
Rain showers ended in the Gatlinburg area about 8 a.m. Tuesday, said National Weather Service meteorologist Sam Roberts.
More fires broke out in Gatlinburg overnight, but rains offered some relief.
Mattise reported from Nashville.
A sombre reality set in for Gatlinburg, a city of just 3,944 residents that draws more than 11 million visitors a year.