GATLINBURG, Tenn. (WATE) – “The flames have died down, and the smoke is beginning to clear,” said Ripley’s Aquarium of The Smokies General Manager, Ryan Desear. “It’s really a blessing that our building survived.”
Desear says he plans on returning to work immediately to keep operations afloat at the aquarium. The company plans to donate food to community members in need.
The wildfire in Gatlinburg has led employees of Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies to evacuate.
The attraction’s general manager Ryan DeSear spoke to WATE 6 On Your Side. He says the evacuation was caused by the smoke from nearby fires.
The aquarium says the animals were not harmed. There is a team of marine biologists looking over the animals. The aquarium took measures to make sure the animals were not harmed or suffer from smoke inhalation Monday night. Ripley’s is built on a bunker and has power at the time of the evacuation.
Ripley’s teams from Myrtle Beach and Buffalo are on standby to assist staff in Gatlinburg if the need arises. The aquarium will remain closed until the evacuation is lifted.
WATE will continue to keep you updated on the fire.