Downtown Gatlinburg, Tennessee was evacuated Monday evening because of danger from spreading wildfires.
Areas surrounding Downtown Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and the Great Smoky Mountain National Park are being evacuated, according to WATE television. Residents are urged to use Highway 321 to evacuate. State Highway 441 headed into Gatlinburg is closed; the outbound lanes are open to evacuation traffic.
Shelters are being opened in the surrounding communities to assist residents.
At least 30 structures were damaged by flames in Gatlinburg Monday, according to initial official information reported by WTVF's Chris Conte.
The National Guard is being deployed to Gatlinburg to help combat the wildfires, according to WATE. Extremely dry conditions combined with high winds have helped area wildfires grow to an estimated 500 acres.
“At some point overnight this fire blew up from 50 to 500 acres," Dana Soehn with the National Park Service told WATE.
On Monday night, WATE, the ABC television affiliate based out of Knoxville, Tennessee, had over 30,000 viewers watching their coverage on Facebook Live. Their television coverage was also being simulcast on their Web site and mobile app.
Viewer photos and videos airing on WATE showed flames quickly approaching homes, business and area roadways.
Firefighting resources and human aid is being brought in from area communities.
It was not immediately known if the fire caused any damage to nearby Dollywood Resort.
Wildfires have been burning across the Southeast for weeks. North Carolina was continuing to battle 19 wildfires, according to data released by the North Carolina Forest Service on Monday. Over 30,000 acres have been effected by wildfires in North Carolina.
Rain moving across the Southeast Monday and Tuesday is the first significant precipitation for the region in weeks. It is expected to bring a little relief to the firefighting efforts but the lasting effect of the rain could not be immediately forecast. Isolated flooding could be seen in areas where heavier rain occurs or in terrian heavily effected by wildfire debris.