Smoky Mountains Fires Burn East Tennessee Tourist Destinations
The wildfires that ran through the drought-stricken Great Smoky Mountains and caused home and business losses in the tourist town of Gatlinburg, has brought out the helping hands of the friendly East Tennesseans.
The Gatlinburg Chamber of Commerce Foundation has established the Gatlinburg Relief Fund which will directly benefit the families impacted by the wildfires and native Dolly Parton has promised to give $1,000 to each family who lost a home or business for the next six months.
The Chamber relief fund is being managed by SmartBank, an East Tennessee-based community bank with multiple branches in Sevier County. Anyone who would like to contribute to this fund may either drop off a donation at a SmartBank location or mail a donation to P.O. Box 1910, Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, 37868-1910. Checks should be made payable to “Gatlinburg Relief Fund.”
The fires were so intense that temperatures in some parts of East Tennessee reached 118 degrees, causing care tires and windshield wipers to melt.
“Since the fires began earlier this week, we have been inundated with calls from people wanting to know how they can help,” said Billy Carroll, SmartBank President & CEO. “After talking with Gatlinburg officials, they are requesting that anyone wishing to help, make a donation to the chamber’s Gatlinburg Relief Fund, where the dollars can have the greatest impact.”
Parton, who is from Sevierville just outside of Gatlinburg and has the theme amusement Park called Dollywood in neighboring Pigeon Forge, has set up the My People Fun through her Dollywood Foundation.
“I’ve always believed charity begins at home, and my home is someplace special,” Parton said. “We want to provide a hand up to those families who have lost everything in the fires. I know it has been a trying time for my people, and this assistance will help get them back on their feet.”