The wildfires in Gatlinburg, Tennessee are beginning to die down, but the damage to life and property have been extensive.
According to CBN News, the wildfires, caused by a severe drought and made worse by hurricane-force winds, have ravaged the Gatlinburg area, known for its tourist attractions, such as Dollywood, Ripley’s Aquarium, and a ski resort.
Three people have reportedly died in the fires and hundreds more have been hospitalized due to burns and smoke inhalation.
Additionally, at least 150 buildings, including a number of churches, have been destroyed. The pictures being shared on social media show heartbreaking devastation to an area many call home or have visited on vacation.
The Dollywood resort, however, appears to have survived the flames.
"We had wind gusts in excess of 87 miles an hour. That is hurricane force,” said Gatlinburg Fire Chief Greg Miller. “That is nowhere to be when trying to fight a fire.”
"There was fire everywhere. It was like we were in hell," shared Linda Monholland, who was working at Park View Inn in Gatlinburg when she and five other people fled on foot. "Walking through hell, that's what it was. I can't believe it. I never want to see something like that again in my life, ever."
Rains, along with the efforts of firefighters, have helped to get the fires under control.
The churches in the area which are still standing have begun efforts to provide aid to those affected by the fires. They are partnering with the Red Cross and other ministries to help with rescue efforts.
"We're trying to be supportive of them; we're trying to reach out to them, show the love of Christ," Dick Wellons, of Smoky Mountain Area Rescue Ministries, told CBN News.
Publication date: November 30, 2016
Veronica Neffinger wrote her first poem at age seven and went on to study English in college, focusing on 18th century literature. When she is not listening to baseball games, enjoying the outdoors, or reading, she can be found mostly in Richmond, VA writing primarily about nature, nostalgia, faith, family, and Jane Austen.