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tennessee wildfire 2016


Dolly Parton has announced that her charity, Dollywood Foundation, will donate $1,000 a month to families affected by devastating wildfires in Tennessee.

The 70-year-old country music legend said she would provide help “until they get back up on their feet”.

“I’ve always believed that charity begins at home,” Dolly Parton said in a video statement.

According to authorities, at least seven people have been killed in the fires in Sevier County, Tennessee, and around the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Dolly Parton’s foundation has set up a fund where people can donate to help victims of the fires.Dolly Parton cancer rumors denied

“I know it’s been a trying time for my people, and this assistance will help,” the singer said.

The wildfires came to the doorstep of Dollywood, Dolly Parton’s theme park in Pigeon Forge, Sevier County.

A spokesman said guests were evacuated from some of its properties, and that several cabins and holiday structures were damaged.

Around 45 people have been treated in hospital as a result of the wildfires, and over 700 buildings have been damaged.

Mandatory evacuations are under way around Gatlinburg, a city 7 miles southeast of Pigeon Forge.

Dolly Parton appeared in a public service advertisement on November 27, asking people nearby to take steps to avoid spreading the fire.

Later, the singer spoke of her misery at the toll the blazes had taken.

“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,” Dolly Parton said.

Meanwhile, Miley Cyrus, also a Tennessee native, sent her sympathies and support to Dolly Parton and the people of the state in an Instagram post.

Sharing a picture of the pair performing together, Miley Cyrus wrote: “Love my fairy god mother @dollyparton and sending protective energy to the ever so sacred Dollywood and all of the homes/folks in TN who are experiencing this devastating fire!”

Dollywood will remain closed until 14:00 local time on December 2, while the Great Smoky Mountains – the most visited national park in the US – said it had closed all park facilities and many trails.

There is also concern for more than 10,000 animals at an aquarium in Gatlinburg, after all employees were evacuated.

The building is still standing, but “workers are anxious to return to check on the animals”, the general manager of Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, Ryan DeSears, told local media.

According to Tennessee’s Department of Agriculture, 26 active fires have burned nearly 12,000 acres across the state.

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Neighboring Georgia, as well as North and South Carolina, are also battling wildfires after months of drought.


At least seven deaths have been confirmed from a ferocious wildfire that erupted across Tennessee’s Great Smoky Mountains National Park more than a week ago.

The search-and-rescue operations continue in the area.

The resort cities of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee have suffered the majority of the damage.

More than four dozen people have been injured by the fire, and hundreds of buildings burned to their foundations.

According to authorities, the fire is about 10% contained and “could still rear its head”.

Over 14,000 people have been evacuated, and schools across the region have been closed.

Image source WMSV

Image source WMSV

As the flames die down in some areas, other risks to firefighters are becoming a greater threat, Gatlinburg’s fire chief says.

“A new challenge that the weather is creating for us after the fire is we are experiencing some small mudslides and rock slides because there’s no longer that foliage that’s holding everything together,” Chief Greg Miller said at a press conference.

Police raised the death toll to seven on November 30 after discovering three more bodies.

They did not provide any details regarding the circumstances of the deaths.

Sevier County Mayor Larry Waters told reporters: “We certainly want to pray for those families, the folks involved in the fatalities. We continue to try to identity them. We haven’t been able to yet.”

Officials in Gatlinburg hope to allow residents to return to the town on December 2, but for now the mandatory evacuation order remains in place.

Gatlinburg Mayor Mike Werner called for tourists to support the area by coming to visit the region which includes the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and draws more than 11 million people annually.

Dollywood, the resort owned by country music star Dolly Parton in the mountain town of Pigeon Forge, was largely spared, though the flames licked its doorstep.

There is a rain system currently moving through the area, but officials fear that not enough will fall to stem the spread of the fire, which has already burned for several weeks due to drought conditions.