Wildfire in Pigeon Forge, state of emergency declared

Joe Sutton and Ed Payne report for CNN that the Tennessee wildfire in Pigeon Forge has damaged 35 buildings and that the National Guard was called in after a State of Emergency was declared to help control the blaze that started in a home around 5 PM on Sunday, 17th March.

From the article:

Helicopters were having difficulty dropping water on the poorly contained fire because of the wind, said Dean Flener of the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency.

Authorities were evacuating more residents as the fire threatened 15 to 20 homes in the Priscilla Heights area of Sevier County, Tennessee, according to Flener.

Dozens of cabins lost in massive fire

About 150 people were evacuated Sunday and the American Red Cross opened a shelter at the Pigeon Forge Community Center. Hotels are also allowing residents to stay for free, Flener said.

About 20 fire departments have been fighting the fire, authorities said.

“Propane tanks have been exploding,” Pigeon Forge Fire Chief Tony Watson said Sunday. “It’s been real dangerous.”

Now at 230 acres, the blaze started as a house fire, according to Watson.

“It looks like somebody just went through there and just dropped a bomb on the place,” Shannon McCostlin told affiliate WATE-TV. “I feel bad for them people.”

The area is home to rental cabins with some permanent residences.

Pigeon Forge, in eastern Tennessee, is best known for singer Dolly Parton’s theme park, Dollywood, which was not affected by the fire.

Positioned on the edge of the Great Smoky Mountains, the area also is popular with outdoors enthusiasts and has a wide variety of other attractions, including music theaters, outlet malls, go-kart tracks and miniature golf courses.

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