A feud between two Gatlinburg wildfire survivors has spilled onto the nationally syndicated "Dr. Phil Show".
Darlene Verito and Melinda Stites will appear Wednesday, Jan. 24, on the pre-taped, one-hour program, according to Jerry Sharell, executive director of communications for CBS Television Distribution, which handles the show. Vicky Cowden of Pigeon Forge also made the trip to California to appear on the show.
"Dr. Phil" airs 3 p.m. weekdays on WBIR, Channel 10.
Stites and Verito have been part of a group of dozens of people called the Gatlinburg Wildfire Survivors. Stites administers the closed group's Facebook page.
The group has been critical of the city of Gatlinburg's response to the Nov. 28, 2016, disaster, with members appearing frequently at Gatlinburg City Commission meetings. Fourteen people died as a result of the fires that swept across Gatlinburg and Sevier County.
Verito last year accused Gatlinburg Mayor Mike Werner of intimidation on Facebook, an allegation he denies.
According to a show description, Verito developed "serious suspicions" about Stites. She accuses Stites on the program of wrongdoing involving a GoFundMe page, although no one has been charged.
"Local resident Darlene says she lost her home, her business and even friends in the disaster. She says the fires changed her life forever in an unimaginable way, and she felt compelled to help others and joined a support group run by another resident, Melinda," according to a show description.
The synopsis released by CBS doesn't say how the program ends.
Stites told 10News she mainly wanted to go on the program to clear her name of accusations that she'd done something wrong with the GoFundMe page created on her behalf after the fire. She was satisfied she did that with her appearance, she said.
She also posted a message this week on her Facebook page.
"Let me make this clear: I went on Dr. Phil as an individual dealing with cyberbullies," she wrote. "I went on to clear my name and show them proof I've been honest. This is not about Gatlinburg. This was for me personally. I also did it in hopes of getting somebody with PTSD the help they need. It was also to help us move on."
About the program, Stites also said, she and Verito "...went on as enemies and left as friends."
Verito said she has undergone PTSD counseling that has helped since the 2016 disaster. She said Stites repeatedly attacked her last year but that she wants to get beyond what happened to her and others in Gatlinburg.
Verito said that during the program, which was taped Jan. 9, she ended up apologizing to Stites and that they hugged. She said fires victims "need help" to recover from what they've been through.
"I want to just move on from all of this," she said Wednesday. "I want it to stop. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem like I'm ever going to be totally removed."