Gatlinburg resort donates money to community one year after the wildfire

Erin Barnett State

GATLINBURG, Tenn. (WATE) — Westgate Smoky Mountain Resort and Spa honored team members and the community one year following the Gatlinburg wildfire.

The resort suffered extensive damage in the fire. Dozens of buildings burned while 1,200 people were evacuated off the mountain.

One year later, a lot of progress has been made. The resort now has eighty percent of the damaged buildings either rebuilt or under construction.

At the ceremony Tuesday, the resort praised their team members for their hard work in the rebuilding process and also recognized city and county leaders and emergency personnel.

The resort also presented a combined $50,000 to four local charities. A donation of $250,000 was presented to the city of Gatlinburg and Sevier County for a new firehouse. The resort owners said it is all about saying thank you to those who gave so much.

“We had dozen of team members who risked their lives running up through the flames extracting everyone off the mountain, and the city of Gatlinburg fire department without them and the Sevierville department Anderson department all the fire departments that pitched in we’d be telling a different story on this mountain,” said Mark Waltrip, Chief Operating Officer of the resort.

The resort also announced they will be expanding in addition to rebuilding structures lost in the fire.