Emergency officials in Tennessee say a wildfire has set 30 structures ablaze in Gatlinburg, including a 16-story hotel, and is at the edge of the Dollywood theme park.
Tennessee Emergency Management Agency spokesman Dean Flener says in a news release Monday night that mandatory evacuations were underway for areas in and around Gatlinburg, including the south part of Pigeon Forge, where Dolly Parton’s theme park is.
Flener says strong afternoon winds fanned the wildfire on land in the great Smoky Mountains National Park to move quickly onto private property.
That fire is now burning 500 acres, CBS affiliate WDEF reported.
TEMA says no deaths have been reported.
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is now closed, WVLT reported.
A representative with the park said the air quality is unhealthy for the Sevier County section of the park and adjacent areas, especially in the Gatlinburg area due to heavy smoke from the nearby Chimney 2 Fire. The Sevier County Humane Society said all animals are safe.
As storms approach some of the largest wildfires burning in the South, the rain signaled new hope for firefighters working to put them out.
But authorities said the storms were also bringing high winds, which could topple the many dead trees and branches in burning forests and pose a threat to firefighters. And experts predicted rains from one storm system wouldn’t be enough to end the relentless drought that’s spread across several states.
The storms appeared to be taking aim at the two largest wildfires in the South — the nearly 28,000-acre Rough Ridge Fire in north Georgia and the nearly 25,000-acre Rock Mountain Fire burning on both sides of the Georgia-North Carolina line.
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