Dolly Parton Starts Fund to Help Gatlinburg Wildfire Victims

"I've always believed charity begins at home," Parton said.

By Robyn Collins

Just one day before the Gatlinburg wildfires, Dolly Parton released a joint PSA with Smokey the Bear warning about the dangers of fire in a drought.

Related: Tennessee Wildfires Threaten Dolly Parton’s Theme Park

Then, on November 27 and 28, fires devastated the eastern Tennessee area. At least seven people were killed in the fires in Sevier County and around the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, reports BBC News.

In response, the country icon has set up the “My People” fund to help victims of the wildfires. “I’ve always believed charity begins at home,” Parton said. The fund will provide $1,000 a month, for six months to families who lost their homes in the fires. In addition, The Dollywood Foundation set up a program for people to donate to victims of the fires.

Around 45 people have been treated in hospital as a result of the wildfires, and over 700 buildings have been damaged. Mandatory evacuations are still under way around the mountain town. It is believed that the fires were caused by arson.

The wildfires came close to destroying Dollywood, Parton’s theme park in her birthplace of Pigeon Forge, in Sevier County. A spokesman said guests were evacuated from some of its properties, and that several cabins and holiday structures were damaged.

Parton has been devastated by the toll the blazes had taken. “I have been watching the terrible fires in the Great Smoky Mountains, and I am heartbroken. I am praying for all the families affected by the fire – and the firefighters who are working so hard to keep everyone safe,” she said.

Miley Cyrus sent her love to her home state and her godmother.

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