OWENSBORO, KY (WFIE) - The American Patriot Getaway offices in Owensboro where phones were ringing off the hook with customers asking about upcoming cabin rentals. There's also an office in Pigeon Forge, and managers there had the business to worry about but also their personal homes.
When news broke that the fire was spreading quickly, Matthew Naas and his team at American Patriot Getaways in Gatlinburg worked to make sure their guests were safe
"It went from a non-emergency situation to a nearly unfathomable situation in a very short amount of time. What we did hear, we basically operated command center, so we were working to contact authorities and get the latest update on where the fire was going," Naas says.
Naas and his family are originally from Owensboro, but now work at the business in Gatlinburg. He says employees not only had to worry about guests but their own families too. Many of whom had to evacuate.
"We did have to evacuate our house. We did have power lines down. The fire was on the next ridge so it did not consume our house but we did have employees that lost their homes and we are going to take care of those," Naas says.
Naas says now the thing to focus on is not the destruction but whats left. He says most of the town is still there and the best thing people can do is to continue visiting the area. You can donate to charities listed below.
Pathways Church Sevierville
100% of money goes directly to displaced families.
Choose "give without setting up an account" then choose "Sevierville Campus" and a special fund for fire relief will appear.
Church has connections with principals of local schools whose students have lost their homes.
Sevier County Food Ministries
Pets Without Parents
Caring for displaced pets until owners can bring them home.
Smoky Mountain Area Rescue Ministry