'Dollywood' theme park at risk as wildfires rage in southern US

2016-11-29 21:30
Damage caused by wildfires around Gatlinburg. (Michael Patrick, Knoxville News Sentinel via AP)

Damage caused by wildfires around Gatlinburg. (Michael Patrick, Knoxville News Sentinel via AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Washington - Wildfires raging across the US southeast are bearing down on Dollywood, the glitzy theme park founded in Tennessee by American country music legend Dolly Parton.

Officials said dozens of fires are burning in the state, fanned by high winds and fuelled by parched vegetation after weeks of drought.

Dollywood, located near the Smoky Mountains National Park, is one of several popular resort attractions in east Tennessee threatened by the fires.

Parton released a public service announcement on Sunday urging visitors and residents of the region to exercise caution when handling fire, even as the blaze was nearing her iconic theme park.

"I love these Smoky Mountains that I call home, and I know you do too. Help protect their beauty and prevent human-caused wild fires," Parton, 70, says in the ad.

News reports said portions of Dollywood have been evacuated as wind speeds topped 110km/h in some parts of Tennessee, which has been hit by the worst drought in nearly a decade.

Her 120ha amusement resort is one of the region's most popular draws with rides and musical events that sometimes include appearances by Parton and her family.

Tennessee's Department of Agriculture, which is responsible for maintaining the state's forests, said Tuesday there are 47 active fires that so far have consumed nearly 6 070ha. 

Hundreds of firefighters, meanwhile, have descended in the town of Gatlinburg, a popular tourist resort and a gateway to the Smoky Mountains, to co-ordinate efforts to extinguish the fires.

News reports there said several homes and businesses in the town have been destroyed, including a 16-storey hotel, and hundreds of other properties have been evacuated.

"The state is providing co-ordinated resources, including Nat'l Guard, to help Gatlinburg, all those affected by devastating fires," Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam wrote in a tweet on Tuesday.

Read more on:    us  |  wildfires

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.