Country Icon Dolly Parton ‘Heartbroken’ After Wildfires Ravage Area Surrounding Dollywood
Country legend Dolly Parton issued a special statement Tuesday after wildfires ravaged the area surrounding her theme park Dollywood and nearby DreamMore Resort in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.
Wildfires sparked by a severe drought began spreading Sunday to engulf the Sevier County area, a popular tourist location and the county where Parton was raised. Tens of thousands were evacuated from the area through Monday night — 14,000 residents and visitors were evacuated from the city of Gatlinburg alone, The Associated Press reported. Tuesday afternoon, Gatlinburg’s Fire Chief Greg Miller confirmed that three people have been killed in the wildfires. The AP previously reported that at least a dozen people had been taken to the hospital.
In a statement published on her website and shared on her Facebook page, Parton said she was “heartbroken” over the fires, which haven’t harmed Dollywood or DreamMore Resort:
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. It is a blessing that my Dollywood theme park, the DreamMore Resort and so many businesses in Pigeon Forge have been spared.
“An assessment this morning revealed no damage to the Dollywood park itself but more than a dozen cabins managed through Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Cabins were damaged or destroyed,” the statement went on to say.
Dollywood will be closed at least through Wednesday, November 30, and the DreamMore Resort “will be open on a limited basis for those in need and for registered guests.” According to the statement, families in 50 DreamMore Resort rooms and 19 Smoky Mountain Cabins were evacuated Monday night.
A storm system offered some relief Monday night, but the rain stopped around 8:00 a.m., and no more “meaningful” rainfall is expected until around midnight on Tuesday, the AP reported.
Parton’s statement comes one day before the scheduled premier of Dolly Parton’s Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of Life on NBC. The made-for-television movie is a sequel to 2015’s Dolly Parton’s Coat of Many Colors that was based on true stories from Parton’s childhood. According to a news release on DollyParton.com, in Christmas of Many Colors, the Partons “face a devastating event that challenges their will. But when they experience a bewildering Christmas miracle, the Partons are drawn closer together than ever — with deepened faith and love for one another.”
The Stream staff prays that people of Sevier County and other communities in the South experiencing devastation due to wildfires will also be drawn closer together in faith and love this holiday season. As Dolly’s grandfather says in the film, “God gives us a way to face anything.”