originally from WGRZ news
PIGEON FORGE – As fires threaten homes and businesses in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, the area’s largest theme park is watching the situation closely.
Pete Owens, spokesperson for Dollywood, says that so far, no structures inside the park have been damaged. They have fire crews in the park, standing by if needed to protect the buildings.
Owens says the fire has reached the Upper Middle Ccreek ridge near the park, and they have evacuated 19 occupied cabins in the park’s cabin resort area. In addition, they have evacuated guests from 50 rooms in Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort.
Not far away from Dollywood, some 50 to 60 birds were moved out Monday night from the American Eagle Foundation.
According to Julia Cecere of the foundation, AEF staff members began conducting “an emergency bird evacuation” about 8 p.m. They were taken to staff members’ homes.
It’s something “we have never had to do before,” according to an email from Cecere.
“It wasn’t graceful, but we did our best to retrieve every bird and then load about 40-50 pounds of raptor food along with. These birds are now resting safely in individual kennels at several AEF staff member homes 10+ miles away from the fires,” she wrote.
Foundation President Al Cecere also went to check on the birds at the Eagle Mountain Sanctuary at Dollywood. Because of the smoke, limited access to the site and the topography, the eagles could not be removed Monday night, according to Julia Cecere.
Here’s a link to a live webcam of the sanctuary at Dollywood.
“As of now they are safe and hanging out in their aviaries, albeit the air quality is not optimal. Eagle Mountain Sanctuary houses one of the largest collections of non-releasable Bald Eagles in the world. Firetrucks and first responders are protecting Dollywood and we hope to receive reports in the morning from Dollywood security as to whether it’s safe to come evacuate them.
“We are hoping and praying for rain to come save our sweet home in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains.”
The foundation also is asking for help with carriers once it’s time to move the eagles.
“If anyone in Sevierville/Kodak/Knoxville has Large to XL plastic dog kennels/carriers and would like to donate or loan them to the AEF please text 865-654-4223 or 865-256-0372. We would be willing to set a drop-off point in Sevierville, where as of now, is safe from harm. We need these as soon as possible, just in case a second evacuation in the morning in necessary.”
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