- Witnesses report that dozens of people are still trapped inside a hotel which is surrounded by flames
- Hotel guest Logan Baker said that the 16-story building began filling with smoke as fire came up
- Firefighters have told them to stay put 'as it's just too dangerous to evacuate' due to 80mph winds
Nobody is allowed into the city at this time.
The Daily Mail are reporting; Terrified guests are trapped inside a burning Hilton hotel as a huge wildfire engulfs the Tennessee resort towns of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge.
Dollywood theme park has been evacuated as thousands of tourists and residents fled the Great Smoky Mountains amidst reports of cars bursting into flames, dozens of homes being engulfed by fire, and the sky turning brown with smoke and flames.
Motorists clogged the roads after the Gatlinburg Fire Department ordered the mandatory evacuation of the town at just after 6pm on Monday, as strong wind conditions fanned the flames making the fire increasingly unpredictable and dangerous.
Meanwhile there are also fears for over 10,000 animals at Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies, which is also surrounded by flames. The Sevier County Emergency Management Agency said if you are currently in Gatlinburg and are able to evacuate, evacuate immeidately and follow any instructions from emergency officials.
Three county school buses are available in Pigeon Forge for emergency transport and are being dispatched as needed to transport those who need to evacuate.
Gatlinburg residences are encouraged to evacuate using Highway 321 to evacuate.
Gatlinburg fire officials have declared an immediate mandatory evacuation of the Mynatt Park, Savage Gardens, East Foothills Road, Turkey Nest Road, Davenport and Ski Mountain areas.
Evacuation centers were set up at the Gatlinburg Community Center and Rocky Top Sports World. Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials reported fire activity at the Park Headquarters area and a spot fire between Elkmont and Newfound Gap Road off of the Sugarland Mountain Trail approximately 1 mile south of the Husky Gap Trail intersection.
The park has closed the Gatlinburg Bypass and Little River Road from Sugarlands Visitor Center to Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Area due to fire activity and downed trees.
The park has evacuated employees from the Elkmont and Park Headquarters housing areas.
The southbound lanes of the Spur from Pigeon Forge to Gatlinburg are also closed due to fire activity. "It's very dangerous weather conditions," said Dana Soehn with the National Park Service.
"We've had trees coming down, limbs coming down and the fire is continuing to grow."
Evacuation centers were set up at the Gatlinburg Community Center and Rocky Top Sports World. "Fire officials report that fallen trees have sparked multiple fires from fallen power lines," said Cindy Ogle, city manager for the city of Gatlinburg.
"Fire agencies from multiple agencies are responding to the area fires and I can't express enough the city's gratitude for the assistant with the National Park."