A raging wildfire in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park has forced mandatory evacuations in the Tennessee resort towns of Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, with visitors of Dolly Parton's Dollywood forced to flee as well, even though the fire hasn't reached the theme park yet. USA Today reported that as of Tuesday morning (Nov. 29) roads around the towns were packed with motorists fleeing the fires, which had been whipped up by high winds.
Pete Owens, a spokesperson for Dollywood, told the paper late Monday that no structures in the park had been damaged, but that fire crews for the area's largest theme park were standing by if needed. With flames approaching a ridge near the park, staff evacuated 19 cabins in Dollywood's resort area, with guests from 50 rooms at the DreamMore Resort evacuated as well. (At press time the official Dollywood Twitter feed had no updates on the situation and Billboard could not reach Owens for comment.)
ABC News reported that Dean Flener, a spokesperson with the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, said the wildfires had reached "right on the doorstep" of Dollywood, but that crews had stopped the fires from breaching the park overnight. The fires have burned more than 100 homes in the surrounding area so far, injuring one, with more than 1,000 people in a local shelter as of Monday night.