Pigeon Forge Fire Burns Dozens of Cabins, 200-plus Tennessee Acres

Image: Pigeon Forge Fire Burns Dozens of Cabins, 200-plus Tennessee Acres A burned out cabin at the Black Bear Ridge Resort Monday, March 18, 2013 where a fire destroyed or damaged 65 structures and charred 165 acres by noon on Monday, March 18, 2013 between Pigeon Forge and the Wears Valley area of Sevier County, Tenn.

Monday, 18 Mar 2013 12:11 PM

By Megan Anderle

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A fast-moving Tennessee wildfire near a Great Smoky Mountains tourist destination forced officials to declare a state of emergency and send in the National Guard on Monday.

The Pigeon Forge fire, which started around 5 p.m. Sunday, quickly charred more than 35 cabins and turned propane tanks into shrapnel.

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"Propane tanks have been exploding," Pigeon Forge Fire Chief Tony Watson told local affiliate WBIR on Sunday. "It's been real dangerous."

Watson said the blaze started as a house fire and has burned across 200 to 300 acres of land, according to WBIR. The houses are close together, which is why the flames spread so quickly.

"These houses are put close together up there. The first portion of this started out as a house fire… it led to several other next to it catching on fire," Watson said.

Officials are not sure of the exact cause of the fire, WBIR reported.

Resident Shannon McCostlin described what she saw in an interview with local affiliate WATE-TV.

"It looks like somebody just went through there and just dropped a bomb on the place," McCostlin said. "I feel bad for them people."

About 20 fire departments reported to the scene to fight the fire Monday morning. The fire has been partially contained, officials said, and National Guard helicopters dropped water from a nearby lake onto the fire.

There is still a lot of work to be done before the fire is completely extinguished.

"We're a long way from home. We're going to be going into multiple operations for the next couple of days," Watson said.

There have been no reported injuries. Many residents from the area, who live in vacation cabins and permanent homes, have evacuated the area.

Positioned on the edge of the Great Smoky Mountains, the area is popular with outdoors enthusiasts and has a variety of attractions, including music theaters, outlet malls, go-kart tracks, and mini-golf courses.

Diane Conneeli, who was vacationing at Pigeon Forge with her family on Sunday, got out of the area quickly.

"We thank God we're alive and everyone is safe and our possessions can be replaced. And again we had a great week here and great people down here. Hopefully we'll be back," she told WBIR.

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