North Carolinians react with heartbreak to east Tennessee fires - | WBTV Charlotte

North Carolinians react with heartbreak to east Tennessee fires

Mike Mangan of Salisbury talking about the fires in eastern TN. (David Whisenant-WBTV) Mike Mangan of Salisbury talking about the fires in eastern TN. (David Whisenant-WBTV)
CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -

From all over the Carolinas folks are reacting with heartbreak and worry over the fires that have caused so much damage in the area of Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and Sevierville, TN.

The destination is only a two to three hour drive from the Charlotte area, and is a very popular spot for long weekends and vacations.

“In 1992 when my wife and I got married we were looking for a different place to go," Mike Mangan of Salisbury said. “It just makes you stop and say hey, how are these people going to survive all of this?”

While reports indicate that most of the tourist areas suffered minimal damage, there are significant losses with more than 150 homes and businesses destroyed.

The largest fire to hit Tennessee in a century killed four people and injured about four dozen. The flames drove more than 14,000 people from the Great Smoky Mountain tourist city of Gatlinburg, which is still under curfew, according to CBS News.

Mangan and his wife has been to the area four times already this year, and that's been about the pace for the last twenty-five years.  He says over that period of time he has gotten to know many of the locals.

“These people will continue to make a go of it and probably the turnaround will be much quicker than you and I can even imagine," Mangan added.

Others from the Charlotte area are also expressing pain over the devastation.

"My family and I always spend the July fourth holiday in Gatlinburg," wrote Debe Monteith.  "We rent the same cabin every year from a really sweet couple from Kentucky.  Their cabin is on Wiley Oakley Rd off Ski Mountain. That area (Chalet Village) appears to have been destroyed by the wildfires. My heart breaks for all the residents and property owners."

"We live for Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge," wrote Emily Parker. "We go the first weekend of December every year for the Parade of Lights. We have a large cabin booked for us to arrive this Friday and leave out on Monday but not sure if it burned or not, we are unable to reach the rental company. This is such a beautiful place and my heart breaks for my second home!"

Many say they plan to try and visit the area in the next few days to check on property and friends.

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