For the first time since the wildfires in the Great Smoky Mountains began, Sky5 was able to fly above the disaster zone.
It was harsh unforgiving terrain and it was clear why it was impossible for firefighters to reach this spot when the fire first started the day before Thanksgiving. Fueled by dry underbrush that had been starved of moisture for months, the winds here pushed the fire in a direct line north with downtown Gatlinburg in its sights.
Iconic downtown Gatlinburg was still standing, but just blocks away, heartbreaking devastation. Apartments and homes leveled, while feet away others were left untouched
The fire almost destroyed the Sky Lift, sparing the chairs themselves but destroying the wheelhouse.
Iconic Dollywood remained unscathed, while communities above have disappeared.
Throughout Chalet Village and along Ski Mountain Road there were neighborhoods that no longer existed. This was the place where most people lost their lives.
And then there's the Westgate resort where at least two people were trapped in an elevator, and only half the resort was still standing. The damage from this one spot loomed over downtown Gatlinburg
You can not truly understand the devastation here unless you see it with your own eyes.
Close to 2,000 homes and businesses were destroyed.
Throughout Sevier County though, there have been electrical crews and homeowners doing their best to restore some semblance of normalcy to this place; a place that is still shrouded in beauty even though right now it is hard to see.