LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – At least once a year, Brittany Evans makes the trip to Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge with her daughter and husband.

On Friday, the Louisville family hit the road, once again for a quick vacation.

“It’s a getaway from reality type of thing,” Evans said.

As always, Evans took plenty of pictures to document the trip. By the end of the weekend, though, the photos started to look a bit hazy.

“The sky was kind of brown, like it was getting ready to storm or something, and your eyes were burning, and the ashes were starting to fall,” Evans said.

From there, Evans says the situation escalated to the point where “an employee came in and said ‘Gatlinburg’s on fire!’”

Evans and her family chose to head home to Louisville.

“It wasn’t a mandatory [evacuation] at that time," she said. "It was just a precaution because the fires were three miles out. We figured it was probably best for us to get out before everybody made the mad rush and before it spread and got any worse than what it was.”

Before Evans could even get back to Kentucky, wildfires had torn through hundreds of buildings in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. At least three people were killed.

“It’s one of those things you don’t expect to see," she said. "I expected to see a tornado there before I would ever see a forest fire. It really makes me sad. I mean, that’s 30 years of memories for me.”

Evans is remaining optimistic. She says she is certain the area will rebuild and be better than ever before.

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