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13 WTHR Indianapolis | Indianapolis Local News & Weather

Hoosiers on vacation among those escaping Gatlinburg fires

More than 14,000 residents and tourists have been forced to evacuate the fires in the Great Smoky Mountains, including a family from Indianapolis.
The Marrows shared photos of the burned-out resort on Facebook.

GATLINBURG, Tenn. (WTHR) - The "city in the mountains" of Gatlinburg, Tennessee has been destroyed by fast-moving wildfires.

More than 14,000 residents and tourists have been forced to evacuate, including a family from Indianapolis. The Marrows told Eyewitness News they barely escaped and are headed home to safety.

There's nothing like getting a family vacation started off on the right foot. The family even posted it on Facebook.

"Having fun with my family. Day 1 dancing and dinner for free for owners. Love this place," they wrote.

They never could have imagined that a day later, Day 2 would be in the middle of an inferno.

"They explained to us that the activities is canceled due to the smoke, so much carbon monoxide in the air, that they didn't really want us to do anything there," says James Marrow.

They were confined to their hotel room as the fire among the Great Smoky Mountains continued to grow around them. The resort vacation they waited for all year long was reduced to card games with the kids.

On their way to dinner, they were told they had to evacuate.

"The resort was on fire. Our pathway was on fire. As you seen in our pictures, fire was literally right next to us and we're inside the car and we could feel the heat," said Marrow.

After his wife was diagnosed with Lupus this year and losing everything when their own house burned down this was supposed to be a nice break.

"We literally lost the same things that we bought lost it all over again. Tablets, phones," Marrow said.

They went back this morning and their unit was destroyed.

"They had 90 units and only 17 units survived. We were upset this last night, but this morning we were just relieved and thanking God that we were alive," Marrow said. "There were people stuck up there all night long. So we were relieved that we were leaving and we was a part of the group that evacuated first."

The Facebook posts that were supposed to show how much fun they had on vacation have now been replaced with the tragedy of the inferno that's destroyed one of our nation's most valuable treasures.

"Is there a lesson learned?" Is there something that you're taking away from this experience?" asked Eyewitness News anchor Andrea Morehead.

"Me and my wife said we just can't seem to get a break, but God's always there and we are getting breaks. We could have been dead or anything while we slept last night. We have to be grateful for the little things," Marrow said.

The Marrows drove about four hours away to Kentucky and plan to come back to Indianapolis on Wednesday. They'll get a free make-up vacation to Orlando or Miami.