Local Kentucky family witnessing Gatlinburg fires from hotel

Transformers exploding, buildings on fire and helicopters dousing homes with water —That was the scene in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, on Tuesday. Marisa Smith says she watched it all from her hotel room in Pigeon Forge, about 6 miles from where crews are tackling the deadly wildfire.

"Some of the structures aren’t there that were there the other day," says Smith.

Smith lives in Marshall County, Kentucky, but she’s been vacationing in the Gatlinburg area since she was a little girl.

This week, she’s there with her mom, Joann Rodgers, and a couple of other family members.

"It’s really sad to see all of those places that we have memories of staying with the children, the grandchildren, gone," says Rodgers.

Rodgers says the entire area reeks of smoke.

"In fact, it was so bad last night when we went out to get something to eat, that we wet wash cloths and put them on our faces every now and then to get a clean breath of air," says Rodgers.

Rodgers says the vacation spot was her happy place, but now it looks more like a war zone.

"I really dread going to Gatlinburg and up the trails that we use to take, I dread going because I know that it will never be the same," says Rodgers.

Monday night, Smith says her family sat and watched as ashes fell from the sky.

"At first it looked like snow, and we knew it was too warm for snow," says Smith. "And then, as the afternoon went on, it got worse as the winds picked up."

Smith says they plan to head back to Kentucky on Friday. If the situation gets worse, she says they’ll head home early.

For information on how you can help people affected by the fire, click here

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