Tampa couple homeless following Gatlinburg wildfires

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TAMPA, FL (WFLA) — A Tampa couple that moved to Gatlinburg, Tennessee to start a new life is now homeless because of the wildfires that consumed the tourist town. Their home was among the 700 structures destroyed.

Greg and Karen Pelc left behind family and friends in the Tampa Bay area to start a new chapter in their lives. Greg got a full-time job at Ober Gatlinburg Resort. But Monday night, wildfires drove them from their home with just minutes to react.

With flames shooting 15 to 20 feet in the air, and the sound of snapping trees all around them, the Pelcs grabbed their most important treasures: their chihuahuas, Star and Princess, and ran down Ski Mountain Road. They made it to downtown Gatlinburg, stomping embers as they went.

“For awhile we didn’t think we were going to make it,” says Greg. “We started choking real bad. And then God sent an angel named Heather. She picked us up and gave us a ride.”

The Pelcs are staying at an emergency shelter. They’re running low on important medications. Karen is a diabetic, and says insulin is in limited supply in Gatlinburg.

Greg says that Ober Gatlinburg Resort has told him they’re going to give employees some opportunities for employment, but cannot give him the 40 hours a week that he, and many other employees, have been counting on.

Karen’s daughter Kelli Martin has established a GoFundMe account to help Karen and Greg. To contribute, click this link.

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