A historic wildfire has annihilated everything in its path of destruction in Great Smoky Mountain National Park and the neighboring resort towns of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge on Monday night. Hundreds of buildings have been destroyed by the wildfires in Tennessee and more than 14,000 people have been evacuated from the Gatlinburg area and are seeking refuge in emergency shelters.
Thirty structures were on fire in Gatlinburg, including the Park Vista Hotel, a 16-story hotel and the Driftwood Apartment complex near the Park Vista that has “been completely inundated,” said Dean Flener, spokesman for Tennessee Emergency Management Agency.
“The center of Gatlinburg looks good for now,” said Newmansville Volunteer Fire Department Lt. Bobby Balding. “It’s the apocalypse on both sides (of downtown).”
Wind gusts up to 70 mph made the fires unmanageable for the fire crews battling at least 14 fires burning. The wildfires are in close proximity of Dollywood, the theme park owned by country music legend Dolly Parton.
A level 3 State of Emergency was declared by the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) late Monday night.
Videos have emerged from the dramatic and frightening evacuation of thousands of residents fleeing their homes from the massive inferno including Michael Luciano. His terrifying video has the caption “We almost didn’t make it out alive!!” and shows him driving through the wildfires in Gatlinburg. It looks like a Hollywood disaster movie, but it is completely real and absolutely unnerving.
Here’s other videos from Luciano.
The photos and videos coming out of Gatlinburg are heartbreaking.