PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. - A Tennessee man is "hoping for a miracle," after going 24 hours without speaking to his wife or either of his young daughters as wildfires burn through Sevier County.
Michael Reed told WBIR that he and his son Nicholas, 15, were out for a drive Monday night when they learned that their home on Wiley Oakley Road in Gatlinburg was under threat.
In the home was Reed's wife, Constance, and his daughters Lily, 9, and Chloe, 12.
"I spoke with them at 8:15 p.m. last night," he told the Knoxville News Sentinel on Tuesday. "They said there were flames across the street. I told them to call 911 and get out, and that was the last I heard from them."
He told WATE that he and his son tried to drive back into Gatlinburg, but were unable to make it back. They were instead evacuated to LeConte Center in Pigeon Forge, where Reed has been anxiously awaiting the sight of his family.
A friend drove Reed to his home Tuesday, where he found his family's home destroyed.
"When we finally made our way back into Gatlinburg to try to get to her, all of Wiley Oakley was gone," Reed told WATE. "It was completely on fire."
There were signs that his wife and children managed to evacuate before flames engulfed the house, Reed told the news station, but his efforts to find them were hampered by the ongoing emergency response efforts. He told the News Sentinel that he was trying to reach out to someone at Rocky Top Sports Complex in Gatlinburg. The sports complex is being used as an evacuation shelter.
"I just want to find them," he told the newspaper through tears.
Emergency management officials estimated that more than 14,000 people were evacuated overnight Monday in Gatlinburg alone.
The fires have caused serious injuries and deaths.