UPDATED, 8:13 AM: Dolly Parton’s resort company has established a fund to provide $1,000 each month to families who have lost their homes in the Great Smoky Mountain wildfires. The singer and producer of last night’s NBC movie Christmas of Many Colors says in a new video that the My People Fund will begin accepting contributions on Friday from well-wishers at dollywoodfoundation.org. More information on the program will be released tomorrow. Watch Parton’s video above.
PREVIOUSLY, November 30: Dolly Parton’s Dollywood theme park, spared from damage in the ongoing Great Smoky Mountains wildfires, will reopen Friday after suspending operations out of caution. In a statement posted on Dollywood’s website tonight, the singer and producer of tomorrow’s Christmas of Many Colors NBC movie pledged her resort’s support for firefighters and first responders.
“I have been watching the terrible fires in the Great Smoky Mountains and I am heartbroken,” Parton wrote. “I am praying for all the families affected by the fire and the firefighters who are working so hard to keep everyone safe.”
Three lives and hundreds of homes have been claimed by the wildfires near Gatlinburg, Tenn., as seen in the photo above. CNN reported tonight that investigators are considering arson as a cause.
The Parton website’s homepage was given over to a “special statement” tonight, saying that Dollywood “is focusing its efforts for the next two days supporting the community,” and is “assisting other area businesses in supplying personal care items to the shelter at the LeConte Center in Pigeon Forge” as “they continue to feed and house firefighters and first responders.”
The fires in Sevier County, Tenn., came close to Dollywood late Monday, and damaged or destroyed more than a dozen of the 100 rental cabins the resort operates throughout the region. Dollywood itself was not damaged.
“An assessment this morning revealed no damage to the Dollywood park itself but more than a dozen cabins managed through Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Cabins were damaged or destroyed,” according to Parton’s website.
Dollywood has suspended park operations for tomorrow, and the Dollywood DreamMore Resort will be open on a limited basis for those in need and for registered guests. No damage was reported at the company’s Dixie Stampede and Lumberjack Adventure dinner theater sites.
On Monday, resort staff evacuated families in 50 rooms at Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort and 19 cabins at Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Cabins. DreamMore has reopened to guests, and the Dollywood theme park will resume normal operations Friday at 2 p.m.
“We continue to assist firefighters and rescue personnel in any way we can and will provide details of any further developments as and when they are available,” the site says. “For those interested in helping victims of the wildfires, contact the American Red Cross 1-800- Red Cross or text REDCROSS to 90999 to donate ten dollars to American Red Cross disaster relief.”
Parton’s Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of Love, a two-hour sequel to last year’s highly-rated Coat of Many Colors, airs on NBC tomorrow at 9 pm ET. Cast includes Jennifer Nettles, Ricky Schroder, Gerald McRaney and Alyvia Alyn Lind. Parton narrates and makes a cameo appearance.