Flames take over Gatlingburg as wildfires continue destructive path

- Wildfires continued to burn out of control early Tuesday morning in the Tennessee mountain towns of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge as firefighters worked to contain the blaze.

Mandatory evacuation orders have been issued in both cities. Officials have ordered that no one is allowed into the town of Gatlinburg as of Tuesday morning.

At least 30 structures caught fire overnight, including a 16 story hotel.

"The situations are absolutely dangerous. They are dangerous for our fire fighters, they are dangerous for our residents and they are dangerous for our visitors," said Fire Chief Greg Miller.

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The National Guard is now on scene helping flight the flames.

Dry conditions and heavy winds have been making it difficult for firefighters.

"The winds continue to be sustained at 40 to 50 miles per hour and we continue to have these gusts at over 70 miles per hour," said Dana Soehn, spokesperson for the National Parks Service.

The popular tourist destination is known for having Christmas year round and the popular Dollywood Theme Park. Officials say the fire has approached the amusement park, with evacuations at the resort.

Workers at Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies were forced to evacuate, leaving behind more than 10,000 animals. General manager Ryan DeSears tells WBIR-TV that the building was still standing.

Rain is expected in the area through Wednesday and the weekend. However, it is not clear if it will be enough.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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