Shared by permission of Joe McCamish.
After midnight on Monday night, I was with Bruce, my brother, in the Bluff Mountain Fire Tower in Pigeon Forge. We were watching a devastating event. We were photographing the fire in Pigeon Forge when we saw the rain coming in from the West. We saw the fire was about to consume Dollywood so we raced over while praying that the rain would get there first. At exactly 3:30 am the rain came. We stood in that glorious downpour watching the fires slowly die, except for the engulfed cabins. Before the rains, Bruce captured a picture of Dolly’s DreamMore Resort with the devastating wildfires bearing down on it, and that one picture, more than any other, captured peoples’ attention when it came to the national media. Every major media outlet contacted us for permission to use this image the next day. Dolly is so well-loved that all the networks and their affiliates used this image as their lead in on this fire tragedy. It was a great photo Bruce captured that caught the attention of the nation.
As many of you do, Bruce and I both have a deep emotional attachment to these mountains and we saw a powerful intervention – at 3:30 that morning. If the rain hadn’t arrived when it did, it’s likely all of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge would have gone up in flames.
I was inspired to make this video to help explain how this unfolded. I’ve used half a dozen of Bruce’s pictures and the rest I picked up to help visually tell the story. There’s certainly a lot of sadness involved but few know how incredibly precarious the situation was.
I choose the song ‘Amazing Grace’ because with 20,000+ people in harm’s way that night – there were many miracles. #prayforgatlinburg