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Dolly Parton 'heartbroken' by fires in Tennessee, says Dollywood is OK

Smoke in Gatlinburg, Tenn., on Monday soon gave way to flames that forced thousands to evacuate. Tennessee native Dolly Parton offered her prayers Tuesday. (Brianna Paciorka / Knoxville News Sentinel, left; Michael Loccisano / Getty Images, right)
Smoke in Gatlinburg, Tenn., on Monday soon gave way to flames that forced thousands to evacuate. Tennessee native Dolly Parton offered her prayers Tuesday. (Brianna Paciorka / Knoxville News Sentinel, left; Michael Loccisano / Getty Images, right)

After raging fires in Tennessee forced thousands to evacuate and destroyed hundreds of homes and businesses in and around Gatlinburg, Dolly Parton offered her prayers and support Tuesday and gave fans an update on the fate of Dollywood in nearby Pigeon Forge. 

"I have been watching the terrible fires in the Great Smoky Mountains and I am heartbroken," the Tennessee native said Tuesday in a statement. "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."

The fires, which were fueled by wind after burning for weeks in Tennessee and nearby drought-stricken states, were believed to have wiped out an entire resort of more than 100 buildings in the Great Smoky Mountains as National Guard troops arrived early Tuesday to help overwhelmed firefighters, the Associated Press reported.

"Last night, for the safety of our guests, resort staff evacuated families in 50 rooms staying at Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort and families staying in 19 cabins at Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Cabins," the park said Tuesday on its website. It'll be closed at least through Wednesday, though DreamMore Resort will be open "on a limited basis for those in need and for registered guests."  

Emergency officials ordered evacuations in downtown Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge and in other areas of Sevier County near the Great Smoky Mountains, the Associated Press reported. About 14,000 residents and visitors were evacuated from Gatlinburg alone, officials told the AP.

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