A wildfire has swept itself across Tennessee, destroying resident homes and over 500 acres of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. While residents flee and structures in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge have burned and been badly damaged, Dolly Parton’s theme park, Dollywood, is also under threat.
The theme park is partly owned by country music star Dolly Parton and typically hosts around 3 million guests a year. Full of roller coasters and live bluegrass and gospel music, the park is a major entertainment attraction in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.
In a statement regarding the fires, Parton said Tuesday morning, “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.”
She added, “It is a blessing that my Dollywood theme park, the DreamMore Resort, and so many businesses in Pigeon Forge have been spared.”
Though Dollywood has been reported to be undamaged, the fire has come dangerously close to the theme park. Over a dozen cabins managed by the park were burned, and many guests at the DreamMore Resort, an addition last year to the park, had to be evacuated.
Dollywood has suspended operations through Wednesday, Nov. 30, while the DreamMore Resort will remain open in a limited capacity as needed.
Only hours before the fires erupted around Sevier County, where Parton is a native, the country singer released a public service announcement with cultural icon Smokey the Bear regarding wildfires.
“Now we had a beautiful fall this year in the Smoky Mountains, but this extended drought has resulted in high wildfire danger,” Parton says in the ad, giving tips to Tennessee citizens to avoid starting wildfires.
While Dollywood seems to be relatively unscathed compared to many other structures and homes affected by the wildfire, firefighters are still battling the moving fires, especially in the more damaged Gatlinburg.