Coast family touched by the tragedy in Gatlinburg - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Coast family touched by the tragedy in Gatlinburg

Chad Bentz, his wife Julie, and their three children were just in Gatlinburg as the fires started up (Photo source: Bentz family) Chad Bentz, his wife Julie, and their three children were just in Gatlinburg as the fires started up (Photo source: Bentz family)
Despite the fire, the Bentz family will continue to vacation in Gatlinburg on a regular basis. (Photo source: Bentz family) Despite the fire, the Bentz family will continue to vacation in Gatlinburg on a regular basis. (Photo source: Bentz family)
GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) -

Chad Bentz, his wife Julie, and their three children are back in South Mississippi, going through the daily routine of dropping off the kids at school. While the family was in Gatlinburg, TN, they knew something was not quite right, according to Bentz. 

“Towards the end of the week, after we got through Thanksgiving, in the mornings and the evenings, if the wind was blowing, you could smell smoke, and the air quality level changed to an orange from a green, which is healthy,” Bentz recalled.

The Bentzs stayed in a cabin that has received national exposure. They were the last ones there. 

“It burnt to the ground,” Bentz said.  “I spoke to the owner of the cabin yesterday morning, and he sent me some videos and pictures from surveillance, and it got totally destroyed. The whole row on the mountain where we were is just gone.”

The scope of destruction caught Bentz by surprise. 

“You think of a wildfire in an undeveloped community where it just rushes through and it's just woods. These are structures and businesses and people live there. So no, it was very hard to believe,” Bentz lamented.

The roaring fire also brings back memories of another disaster the family went through. 

“It reminds me of Hurricane Katrina. That people just came back to absolutely nothing. That they built their whole lives and their house or their community or their businesses and a lot of it is gone, and it's really heartbreaking.”

Even through the tragedies are similar, Bentz feels something else is also the same. 

“Tennessee is a lot like Mississippi. We're strong people, and I think that it will come back, that they will rebuild. It's such a beautiful area that I hope the national park gets back, the trees and the beauty of it all comes back,” said Bentz.

That's what the rest of the country is hoping for as well.

Despite the fire, the Bentz family will continue to vacation in Gatlinburg on a regular basis.

Copyright 2016 WLOX. All rights reserved. 

  • NEWSMore>>

  • Fun things to do this holiday weekend in spite of the rain

    Fun things to do this holiday weekend in spite of the rain

    Saturday, May 26 2018 7:44 AM EDT2018-05-26 11:44:18 GMT
    An arcade is one of many indoor choices for people at Margaritaville (Source: WLOX)An arcade is one of many indoor choices for people at Margaritaville (Source: WLOX)
    An arcade is one of many indoor choices for people at Margaritaville (Source: WLOX)An arcade is one of many indoor choices for people at Margaritaville (Source: WLOX)

    It's a rainy weekend along the Gulf Coast, with South Mississippi expecting to see Sub-Tropical Storm Alberto pass through late Sunday and into Monday. Being stuck inside because of the rain is no way to spend your Memorial Day holiday.

    More >>

    It's a rainy weekend along the Gulf Coast, with South Mississippi expecting to see Sub-Tropical Storm Alberto pass through late Sunday and into Monday. Being stuck inside because of the rain is no way to spend your Memorial Day holiday.

    More >>
  • Tropical Storm Watch & Storm Surge Watch issued for MS Gulf Coast

    Tropical Storm Watch & Storm Surge Watch issued for MS Gulf Coast

    Saturday, May 26 2018 6:52 AM EDT2018-05-26 10:52:57 GMT

    Alberto is forecast to become a fully tropical storm Saturday and then will move into the Gulf of Mexico this weekend.

    More >>

    Alberto is forecast to become a fully tropical storm Saturday and then will move into the Gulf of Mexico this weekend.

    More >>
  • Long Beach officials tour the city's aging high school

    Long Beach officials tour the city's aging high school

    Friday, May 25 2018 11:18 PM EDT2018-05-26 03:18:51 GMT
    On Friday, Long Beach Mayor George Bass and other city leaders toured Long Beach High School, a facility they say is in desperate need of an upgrade.  (Photo source: WLOX)On Friday, Long Beach Mayor George Bass and other city leaders toured Long Beach High School, a facility they say is in desperate need of an upgrade. (Photo source: WLOX)
    On Friday, Long Beach Mayor George Bass and other city leaders toured Long Beach High School, a facility they say is in desperate need of an upgrade.  (Photo source: WLOX)On Friday, Long Beach Mayor George Bass and other city leaders toured Long Beach High School, a facility they say is in desperate need of an upgrade. (Photo source: WLOX)

    In 2005, a bond issue for a new Long Beach High School failed. This summer, voters will revisit the issue, and Mayor Bass and others hope history doesn't repeat itself.

    More >>

    In 2005, a bond issue for a new Long Beach High School failed. This summer, voters will revisit the issue, and Mayor Bass and others hope history doesn't repeat itself.

    More >>
Powered by Frankly