GATLINBURG - For 11 years, people from around the world have come to stay at The Lodge at Buckberry Creek to enjoy its incredible views of Mount LeConte. After fires that tore through Gatlinburg Monday night, the views remain, but the lodge is gone.
The lodge was located on Campbell Lead Road in Gatlinburg. Owner Buddy McLean was first able to return to the site to see the condition of the lodge on Thursday.
The property has been in McLean's family for 60 years. He created a luxury resort there in 2005 and filled it with family heirlooms.
"It's amazing what was here, and we turned it almost into a museum," he said.
Monday night, employees and guests at Buckberry Lodge nearly died when fire trapped them on the mountain.
Thankfully, everyone made it out alive.
A portrait of McLean's grandfather, the cozy rooms and the restaurant are all gone now. But one characteristic piece of the lodge remains - a single rocking chair overlooking the mountains.
The Lodge's guests have been understanding, mostly offering to help.
"We had a guest today that had a reservation for between Christmas and New Year's, and so we were calling to tell him we were obviously not open and that we were going to send them a refund of their deposit, and the guy said, 'don't send me the refund, use it for a rebuild.' That's the kind of guests we had," McLean said.
The owners are focusing on the lives saved instead of the buildings lost. They said they are dedicated to recreating what they had and reopening within two years.
(© 2016 WBIR)