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The Latest: Dolly Parton sets up fund for wildfire victims

The Latest: Dolly Parton sets up fund for wildfire victims

WMSK Staff

December 1st, 2016

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GATLINBURG, Tenn. (AP) — The Latest on wildfires in eastern Tennessee (all times local):

7:35 a.m.

Country music legend Dolly Parton says she’s establishing a fund to help victims of the wildfires that burned hundreds of homes and businesses in the Great Smoky Mountains area and left seven dead.

She says The Dollywood Company and The Dollywood Foundation are establishing the My People Fund, which will provide $1,000 monthly to Sevier County families who lost their homes.

More than 14,000 people were evacuated from Gatlinburg on Monday night and many of them are still nervously awaiting word of when they can get back in the city to see if they still have homes.

The flames reached the doorstep of Dollywood, the theme park named after Parton. The park was spared any significant damage and will reopen Friday.

Parton said she hopes the financial assistance will help people who lost everything get back on their feet again.

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7:35 a.m.

The superintendent of the Great Smoky Mountains National park says the wildfires that devastated parts of eastern Tennessee were likely human-caused.

Cassius Cash’s comments, made Wednesday afternoon, were reported by The Washington Post. Seven people have been killed in the wildfires which destroyed hundreds of homes and businesses, many in the Gatlinburg area.

Gatlinburg Mayor Mike Werner said officials were discussing the possibility of re-opening the town Friday, which would give business owners and residents their first look at the damage in a city that’s been closed since Monday night.

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3 a.m.

After nearly 24 hours of drenching rain helped quench a series of devastating wildfires in eastern Tennessee, local officials began turning to cleanup and recovery efforts.

Gatlinburg Mayor Mike Werner said officials were discussing the possibility of re-opening the town Friday, which would give business owners and residents their first look at the damage in a city that’s been closed since Monday night.

Werner was one of several city officials managing the crisis while dealing with personal losses. He lost his home and his business.

Officials discovered three more bodies Wednesday, raising the death toll to seven. Three other people who had been trapped since the wildfires began were rescued.

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