Man who lost everything in wildfires says he’s ‘Gatlinburg strong’

Shannon Faulkner and his family lost their apartment in the November fires. (Photo: WKRN)

GATLINBURG, Tenn. (WKRN) – A man who lost everything in the devastating Sevier County wildfires last November said he won’t let the tragic loss get him down.

News 2 met Shannon Faulkner while he was at work. Even after losing everything, he had a smile on his face.

“We had lived here for about eight months,” Faulkner said.

Now, six months after fires ripped through, nothing remains where the apartment he called home once stood.

“If you drove by and you didn’t know anything was here, you would think it is just another empty lot,” Faulkner said.

Photo: WKRN

But that now vacant lot has more meaning and memories than a passerby could ever imagine.

PHOTOS: Wildfires in East Tennessee

“This lot – this whole empty lot – used to be apartment buildings,” Faulkner said.

He told News 2 it is difficult to see the empty spot where his apartment building once stood.

“This is only the second time I stopped and got out here,” he said. “But it is a little emotional knowing that I used to live here and other people used to live here.”

Six months after the massive fires ripped through parts of Sevier County, recovery is happening.

“The first time I was here right after the fire, there was still debris,” Faulkner recalled.

Photo: WKRN

Faulkner and his family stayed in a hotel for two weeks after the fires before moving to Pigeon Forge and close enough to the community they love.

“We got an opening at a place that is right next to my wife’s family and we moved right on in,” he said.

While Faulkner lost everything in the fire, he didn’t lose his family or the will to keep on living, fighting and rebuilding.

“I am Gatlinburg strong,” he said.

Fourteen people were killed in the wildfires last November and more than 2,500 structures were damaged.

Click here for complete coverage of the Sevier County wildfires.