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Gatlinburg torched by wildfires
Disaster underlines drought conditions
Photo courtesy Michael Patrick/ News Sentinel-Pictured is the damage along Cherokee Orchard Road in Gatlinburg.
Gatlinburg remains smoldering with three dead and more than 150 homes and businesses in ruin following wildfires that reached the edge of Dollywood theme park.Sevier County Mayor Larry Waters did not release names of the dead during a 4 p.m. press conference Tuesday and called the discovery "devastating news."“People were basically running for their lives,” said Gatlinburg Mayor Mike Werner, who indicated about half of Gatlinburg’s 10 square miles had been impacted by the fires. “We will rebuild and we will remain the premier resort town that we are.”According to the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, more than 14,000 people left in a mandatory evacuation from the Gatlinburg area with one witness comparing the towering flames to the gates of hell. A 16-story hotel, the Park Vista, was among the damage.“The likes of this has never been seen here,” said Gatlinburg Fire Chief Greg Miller.