PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. - Dolly Parton’s Dollywood temporarily suspended entry Thursday into the Tennessee amusement park as wildfire crews on Thursday battled nearby flames.
Park officials say they paused entry to allow fire crews enough room to assess the growing blaze in Sevier County east of Knoxville. Guests were eventually allowed reentry within 30 minutes.
According to the Tennessee Division of Forestry, 20 fire personnel were responding to a blaze roughly two miles (3.2 km) away from Dollywood.
Across the South, the risk of wildfires has remained high due to prolonged dry and warm conditions, prompting multiple burn bans and warnings for residents and visitors to take extreme caution while outdoors. This includes the National Park Service, which issued a campfire ban throughout the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Currently, the U.S. Forest Service says some of the largest wildfires are active along the Georgia and South Carolina border, as well as in Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.
The fire burning near Dollywood comes after a deadly wildfire in the area in 2016. The flames tore through the nearby tourist town of Gatlinburg, killing 14 people, and caused an estimated $2 billion in losses, including about 2,500 buildings that were damaged or destroyed.
Parton is a native of Sevier County. In the mid-1980s, Parton partnered with the Herschend family who ran the park, then known as Silver Dollar City. It opened under the new name of Dollywood in 1986.