Gas station becomes home for Pigeon Forge owner whose house burned in wildfire

(Photo: WKRN)

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (WKRN) – It’s a home away from home for Jackie Barnes. An unintentional fire refuge is now all she has left.

“I have not left since yesterday morning,” explained Barnes, from the back office of her convenience store. “I was here yesterday for work, never got to go home.”

Barnes owns the Marathon gas station on the sound end of Pigeon Forge. Her business now lies on the edge of law enforcement’s road closures.

(Photo: WKRN)
(Photo: WKRN)
“I saw flames everywhere. There was a red glow behind my building,” she explained. “We were hearing explosions all over the place.”

PHOTOS: Wildfires burning in East Tennessee

All night long, as the fire raged, Barnes took shelter at work, opening up shop for countless fire crews.

“We were letting the first responders come in, use the restroom, get coffee,” she explained.

(Photo: WKRN)
(Photo: WKRN)
Just up the road, behind her business, lays her home.

Family found the structure reduced to rubble in the morning light.

“I knew my dog and cat did not survive,” said Barnes. “They wouldn’t have made it from the smoke, you couldn’t see your hand in front of your face.”

Now she can’t see what lies ahead, with nothing to her name but her family and the family business.

“I don’t have my mom’s recipes, but I’ve got my kid,” she noted. “That’s all that matters, I’ve got my kid. We were blessed; we’re the good luck story in this.”

Click here to view News 2’s continuing coverage of the Sevier County wildfire.