Dolly Parton is Sevier County, Tennessee’s favorite daughter. As thousands of acres burn a few miles from her famed Dollywood theme park, the area’s largest employer, Parton turned to social media to share her support.
“I’ve been keeping up with everything going on with the fires near my home area,” Parton wrote on Instagram. “It looks scary on TV, but I’m proud of how everyone in the area has pulled together like they always do.”
The fire in Wears Valley, near the city limits of Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, was reported around 11 a.m. Wednesday, and by Friday morning was 3,739 acres in size and was 45 percent contained. A second fire blazing nearby in Seymour is 800 acres, and zero percent contained, according to officials with the Sevier County Emergency Management Agency.
“I’m especially proud of the brave men and women who are working to contain the fire. I know there are some folks who have been affected, and I hope that you will join me in saying a prayer for them,” she said.
According to local news station WBIR, 71 fire departments are responding to the fire with 100 pieces of equipment. On Thursday, eight helicopters and a fixed-wing aircraft were expected to help out with the fire. A construction worker and two firefighters have been injured, but no deaths have been reported.
Mandatory evacuations that impacted more than 11,000 homes in Wears Valley and Seymour were issued as crews worked to contain the two fires. Sevier County Mayor Larry Waters said that more than 100 structures, including homes and businesses, have been damaged or destroyed.
However, Parton’s Dollywood – which was gravely threatened by the Gatlinburg Wildfires in 2016 – is safe.
“During this time, I’ve also remained in touch with my people at Dollywood who have assured me everything is okay there,” Parton said.
Those who want to donate can visit: www.tn.gov/tema/get-involved/sevier-county-wildfire.html.