Wildfires continue to range across parts of Tennessee, although rain yesterday helped firefighters rein in the massive blaze, which has killed at least seven people and consumed more than 15,650 acres. A number of people are still missing.
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park has been hard hit, along with nearby Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge – both popular tourist attractions.
News sources report that one firefighter suffered minor injuries while battling the inferno. At least 53 people were treated for injuries at a local hospital.
Authorities believe the fire in the drought stricken region was “human caused.” Dry conditions and high winds helped the flames to spread. Approximately 14,000 people were forced to evacuate their homes and more than 700 structures in Sevier County were damaged or destroyed.
President Barack Obama committed to providing assistance to help fight the fire. The White House also said FEMA approved a grant earlier this week to mobilize resources.
Entertainer Dolly Parton, who is a native of Sevier County and whose Dollywood theme park is located in Pigeon Forge, has pledged to pay $1,000 a month as part of the My People Fund to help families who lost their homes. Although Dollywood was in the path of the fire, it was not damaged.