NASHVILLE (CBSMiami/AP) – A fast-moving wind whipped wildfire has burned dozens of homes in Tennessee, killed at least three people and injured several others as officials scramble to evacuate danger zones.
The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) says officials in the Gatlinburg area estimate that about 100 homes have been damaged or destroyed. The wildfire has set 30 structures ablaze in Gatlinburg, including a 16-story hotel.
Preliminary surveys indicate that the fires have wiped out the more than 100 buildings of the Westgate Smoky Mountain Resort & Spa.
TEMA says no deaths have been reported, though one person was burned while evacuating.
Hundreds of firefighters as well as local and state personnel and National Guard troops have been sent in to help fight the blaze and check on people.
A mandatory evacuation order was issued for downtown Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge residents and guests. About 14,000 residents and visitors were evacuated from Gatlinburg alone.
Dollywood representatives say the theme park hasn’t been damaged, but more than a dozen cabins operated by the park have been damaged or destroyed.
A news release says Dollywood made an assessment of the park early Tuesday morning. On Monday night, resort staff evacuated families staying in 50 rooms at Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort and in 19 of Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Cabins.
The release notes that Dollywood has suspended park operations at least through Wednesday, but DreamMore will be open on a limited basis as a shelter and for registered guests.
Also on Tuesday, the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency reported that the Ober Gatlinburg amusement park and ski area is fine. The agency previously received reports that the facility was likely destroyed.
Officials say there are about 1,200 people sheltering at the Gatlinburg Community Center and the Rocky Top Sports Park. Meanwhile, officials say about 12,000 people are without power and three school systems had canceled classes Tuesday.
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