Chilton Co. woman recounts harrowing escape from Tennessee wildfire

Thistle Dew Nicely, Gatlinburg (Tracy Stephen Oaks)
Thistle Dew Nicely, Gatlinburg (Tracy Stephen Oaks)

CHILTON COUNTY, Ala. (WIAT) — Kim DeLoach says she and her husband are lucky to be alive after they escaped their Westgate Resort cabin Monday night. They were forced to evacuate shortly before the wildfire consumed two-thirds of the resort.

“It was a very scary feeling, knowing you might not see your kids and grandchild,” DeLoach said.

The family has been coming to Gatlinburg on vacation for more than twenty years, and they’ve owned their time share there since 1999. They still don’t know if it survived the fire.

“They are going to rebuild,” DeLoach said. “They have assured us they have the resources, they’re going to rebuild, and they say they’re going to rebuild it better.”

She says it took them about two hours to get to safety, stalled by the sheer number of other drivers, trying to get off the mountain.

“I thought we were goners,” DeLoach said. “You could imagine sparks getting up under your car, exploding. Trees falling over on you.”

She says they spent the day in town, returning to the cabin to see firefighters and police near the drive to the resorts. Shortly after that, a Westgate employee knocked on the door to let them know they were being evacuated.

“My heart started racing. I’m full of faith and I know God is in control, but fear overtook. And I’m ashamed that I let it, but I did,” she said.

Now, she says, she’s just grateful they made it out alive, and she says she’s praying for those not as lucky.

“It humbles you to know that you’re still here and there are folks who have so much more lost than you do,” DeLoach said.

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