“The main thing we ask, is for people to come back,” Dollywood park officials discuss returning to normal after wildfires

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - On November 28, 2016, wildfires ravaged Sevier County, Tennessee.

The fires left three people dead within the first 24 hours of the blaze. The wildfires forced neighborhoods to evacuate with hundreds of homes burned to the ground.

Almost one year after the wildfires in and around Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, neighborhoods and businesses are getting back to normal.

Including the popular tourist attraction in Pigeon Forge, Dollywood.

"The tourism economy is what helps our area grow and thrive and keep people employed, so the main thing we ask is for people to come back and enjoy the area and just experience what we have," said Dollywood Public Relations Manager, Wes Ramey.

Ramey says although they were not impacted by the fires, it was their mission to quickly help as many as they could.

"We actually did have some employees who lost their homes in the fire and we were quick to help them, but Dolly especially wanted to make sure that she could help the people because it was families that she grew up with, a lot of them, that were affected by this," said Ramey.

The "My People" fund was created by Dollywood and raised about 9-million dollars. From December 2016 through May 2017, families who lost their homes received a thousand dollars each month.

Ramey says the community has truly rallied together since this time last year and at Dollywood, they are ready to welcome everyone back to the area.

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