GATLINBURG (WATE) – The lush landscape of the Smokies changed days after the wildfire, the browns of a winter forest mixed with the blackened ground and trees burned to ash.
WATE 6 On Your Side flew over the area with scenic helicopters to notice how the burn pattern stands out in the spring.
The initial fire was spotted Wednesday, November 23 in Chimney Tops. It was an acre and a half in size but by the following Sunday, it grew to 35 acres.
The National Park Service says the steep terrain forced them to set fire lines at 410 acres but by Monday morning, the fire had jumped those lines including Newfound Gap Road.
The flames scorched the ridges below Mt. Le Conte. The images show how threatening the spot fires were becoming.
By 11:35 a.m. on Monday, the fire had spread nearly three miles in just a matter of hours; all believed to be from blowing embers. There were door to door voluntary evacuations in Minot Park and mutual aid from across the state started to arrive.
The flames would eventually hit residential and cabin communities, like Chalet Village. It was one of the hardest hit areas. The rebuilding is slowly underway.
This past winter, Westgate Resort looked almost gone. Now, construction is moving swiftly to rebuild.
More than a dozen cabins operated by Dollywood were consumed by flames. There were charred spots on some ridges closer to the park, but the park and DreamMore were not damaged.
While these images are stark now, the National Park Service says in three to five years, people will go through the park and not be able to tell there was a burn across the mountains.