SEVIER COUNTY, Tenn. (WTVF) — Crews say two wildfires in the Wears Valley and Seymour areas of Sevier County are now 85% contained. What started the fire is being investigated, but crews do not believe this is a criminal case. Of course, scenes like this are alarmingly familiar for people in Sevier County, who also lived through the 2016 wildfires.
A man who's seen his share of painful days is now delivering a message to those who have lost their homes to this fire.
"I like to make people laugh, and I like to make people smile," said Chris MacPherson of Gatlinburg.
Recordings of old stage shows on VHS and stacks of DVDs are truly MacPherson's home movies.
"It's in my blood," he said. "I grew up on that stage. My mom and dad Pat and Don MacPherson started the theater in 1977."
He's talking about the Sweet Fanny Adams Theatre, which was a long bit of old vaudeville in Gatlinburg's downtown. Last year, the time of the pandemic made it too hard for him to keep his theatre open. This was far from the first time MacPherson faced a very painful day.
In November 2016, wildfires in Gatlinburg took the lives of 14 people and destroyed nearly 2,500 buildings and homes. Among the many places devastated, MacPherson's home burned to the ground. It was a house that had been with his family since his grandparents lived there.
Today, with wildfires in Sevier County again, NewsChannel 5 reached out to MacPherson.
"I was at work in Pigeon Forge," he said. "There was smoke in the air. That brought back memories. Part of Wears Valley was on fire. Of my group of friends who went through it before, everyone was up, looking at the wind patterns. I do have to say this time around, phone notifications were going off. They were telling exactly which areas to evacuate. The level of competence in handling the situation was a thousand times better this time around."
A man of resilience, after the fire in 2016, MacPherson rebuilt in the same place. After the closing of his family's theatre, he's returned to performing at the Hatfield and McCoy Dinner Show. He said when all is lost, know this.
"Stay close to your family and friends," MacPherson said. "They're the ones that are really going to help you get through this. There's a lot of community outreach. A lot of people are jumping in to help out."
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