Clean up begins in Pigeon Forge, folks start to return (SLIDESHOW)

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Over 300 acres of woodland in Sevier Co. has been reduced to ashes and more than 80 buildings have been damaged from a massive fire in Pigeon Forge that began on Sunday afternoon.

Now that the flames have subsided and the last wisps of smoke have dissipated, the clean up begins. The aftermath is reminding some of a war zone, rather than a fire.

The flames were so intense the National Guard had to bring in helicopters to dip buckets into nearby waters to pour douse the fire, hoping to contain it.

The blaze reached such heights on Sunday afternoon that you could see sparks high above the tree tops. When the sun eventually set, an eerie orange haze glowed over Pigeon Forge that could be seen hundreds of yards away.

For now, though, they are looking forward.

Sevier County fire crews are battling a massive fire in Pigeon Forge that has damaged or destroyed more than 60 cabins, pulling water from the nearby Douglas Dam.

The fire, which had at one point covered as much as 300 acres, has died down to around 100 acres firefighters said. As the sun comes up on Monday, they plan to go up in helicopters and assess the damage.

Tennessee Army National Guard UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters equipped with “Bambi Buckets” are assisting local firefighters from 25 fire companies in fighting a massive wildfire near Pigeon Forge.

Two helicopters are currently engaged with a third Blackhawk and LUH-72 Lakota on standby. The helicopters are staging at the Tennessee Army National Guard Flight facility at McGhee Tyson Air National Guard Base in Louisville.

The Knoxville Fire Dept. has also lent a hand, sending a 1500 gallon tanker and a brush truck as well as six firefighters to man them.

According to the Sevier County Sheriff's Department, about 35 cabins were destroyed by the fire at Black Bear Ridge Resort. Authorities believe the fire started at one of the cabins Sunday afternoon around 4 p.m. and then spread. All cabins in the area have been evacuated, and no injuries have been reported at this time.

Authorities are asking anyone who lives lives on or near Lost Branch, Engleton Road, Pine Haven, or Pine Crest to have some things packed up and ready to go in case of an emergency evacuation.

The fire was still not under control as of 11 p.m. Sunday evening.

The American Red Cross has closed emergency shelter at the Pigeon Forge Community Center. Any families needing assistance with shelter again due to the wildfire can call 865-584-2999 and the Red Cross will get in touch with someone to help.

The Red Cross said it would reopen the shelter if necessary.

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