Country music legend Dolly Parton on Saturday donated $200,000 to firefighters to wrap up a fundraising drive that she started shortly after the 2016 wildfires that destroyed large swaths of forest in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and surrounding area.
On behalf of the Dollywood Foundation’s My People Fund, Parton presented the check to the fire chiefs of the eight volunteer fire departments located in Sevier County.
“It’s only fitting that the last of the My People Fund will go to those who were the first to respond to the fires,” Parton said.
The wildfires killed 14 people, injured 134 and destroyed 10,000 acres, about 15 square miles, in the national park, and an additional 6,000 acres outside the park. More than 2,000 buildings were destroyed in the Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge area.
Each department receives $20,000 of the money for needed resources and equipment. The final $40,000 will go toward the construction of a new classroom at the countywide training center.