UPDATE: Firefighters thanked by Pigeon Forge as one-year anniver - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

UPDATE: Firefighters thanked by Pigeon Forge as one-year anniversary of wildfires approaches

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PIGEON FORGE (WRCB) -

UPDATE: It's almost been a year since the wildfires destroyed much of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. 

The wildfires killed 14 people, damaged or destroyed more than 2,000 homes and businesses, and caused up to $2 billion worth of damage.

Several other agencies from around the Tennessee Valley were deployed to the deadly wildfires that started on November 28th.

Tuesday was the first time since last year's wildfires that the firefighters who answered the call were back in Sevier County.

The city of Pigeon Forge honored them with a ceremony at Patriot Park. Firefighters from the Chattanooga Fire Department were among those who attended the event.

It was a different experience compared to the last time they were in Sevier County.

One of the more memorable pictures from that time was the orange glow over Dollywood's Dreammore Resort.

"You're used to seeing a lot of green there. A lot of trees and it was a lot of burned area, definitely. A lot of houses. A lot of foundations and you're used to seeing a lot of those nice homes up there on the side of the mountain and there's nothing left," Battalion Chief Chris Warren of the Chattanooga Fire Department said.

Warren and his team answered the call for help. 

It was their job to respond to structure fires and medical calls while Pigeon Forge's crews battled the wildfires.

On Tuesday, they were in Pigeon Forge for a different reason.

At Pigeon Forge's fire hall, thank you cards from students greeted the firefighters. It was all a token of appreciation.

"Some were called. Some showed up. I remember being here in this fire hall that night and just watching those trucks roll in and seeing the names of their communities on the side of their trucks. It was a blessing," Mayor David Wear of Pigeon Forge said.

Firefighters from across the state shared a meal together under one roof. Some haven't seen each other since the wildfires.

"That's always been a big part of fire services being able to talk about those experiences and it helps with a lot of things as far as what you've seen and what you've done. It's also an opportunity to learn," Warren said.

That's in case another wildfire strikes.

The focus in Sevier County has been on recovery efforts as the area rebuilds and now honoring the firefighters who responded.

"It's a great tourist destination. It's a beautiful place up there and I look forward to seeing everything grow again," Warren said.

The city of Gatlinburg and Sevier County will be holding a similar ceremony on November 28th at Rocky Top Sports World Complex.

There are plans to build a permanent memorial to honor those who died.

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