The forest fires in Tennessee have claimed three lives so far and destroyed more than 150 structures. High winds have whipped flames throughout the tourist havens of Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg, and the Smokey Mountain area of Tennessee. Following a mandatory evacuation in the area, Dollywood closed and won’t reopen until Friday.
Dollywood Will Reopen Friday After Forest Fires in Tennessee Forced Closure
Forest fires in Tennessee displaced more than 14,000 residents this week. More than 15,000 acres of the Great Smokey Mountains have been consumed. Fortunately, the Dollywood theme parks only sustained wind damage. Thus far, the park has not been affected by the inferno.
Dollywood Closed Due to Forest Fires
After assessing the damage wrought by the wildfires, Dollywood is focusing its efforts to support the community. According to news reports, Dolly Parton is establishing a relief fund to give back to the area, where the superstar grew up. The Dollywood Foundation’s “My People Fund” will give $1000 a month to Sevier county families who have lost their homes due to the fires.
Dollywood hosts also supported area businesses and rescue efforts, providing personal care items to shelters in Pigeon Forge and housing and feeding firefighters and first responders. The Dollywood theme park will resume normal operation on Friday, December 2 at 2 p.m.
Charity Begins at Home
Parton herself issued heartfelt sentiments about the forest fires in Tennessee. “I have been watching the terrible fires in the Great Smoky Mountains and I am heartbroken. 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, Dixie Stampede and so many businesses in Pigeon Forge have been spared,” Dolly Parton said.
Thanks to the hard work by community firefighters and first responders, Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort is still open to guests.
For those interested in helping victims of the wildfires, contact the American Red Cross (1-800-Red Cross) or text REDCROSS to 90999 to donate ten dollars to the American Red Cross disaster relief fund.
For those who want to travel to Dollywood or the Pigeon Forge area in general, check out these tips for traveling in a wildfire area from Amanda Williams, Rural TravelingMom.