Six hours? Seven hours? Longer?
No one's exactly sure how long Reba and Joe Williams spent stuck in an elevator late Monday and early Tuesday at the Westgate Smoky Mountain Resort and Spa as fire raged around them.
It was long enough for them to wonder if they were going to die.
By the time rescuers came, Reba had passed out. The Birmingham, Ala., couple were taken down the mountain in separate ambulances and ended up at University of Tennessee Medical Center in the emergency room, their daughter Serra Williams told 10News on Friday.
The Williamses, ages 72 and 75, enjoy Gatlinburg and stay there several times a year, Serra Williams said. He's a retired chemical engineer and she's a retired high school math teacher.
They have a timeshare in a building located at the top of the Westgate property. Sometimes the family gathers for holidays at Westgate, one of Gatlinburg's biggest employers with about 1,100 workers.
Reba Williams said Friday night the couple was not ready yet to talk about what they'd been through.
On Monday morning, guests received masks because smoke had been wafting in the area for days from fires, including the Chimney Tops blaze in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. No one had any reason to believe they were about to face an inferno.
The weather worsened. By nightfall, flames driven by gusty winds swept close to Gatlinburg from the parched park.
"From what Mom and Dad told me, somewhere around 8:30 or 9, Westgate pulled the trigger and started going door to door, telling people they needed to get down to the Convention Center," Serra Williams said in a phone interview with 10News from Charlotte, N.C., where she lives.
Reba and Joe headed for an elevator -- ready to get off the property. Fire did not appear around them and they did not have a sense that they needed to get out immediately, Serra Williams said.
They thought they'd be all right to ride on the elevator, she said.
"Once they get into the elevator, it goes about a floor and then it stops. They still have power," Serra Williams said.
They couldn't get through to 911 but they were able to call Westgate employees in Florida, who promised to alert emergency agencies back in Tennessee.
No one came, however. The Williamses tried again, and then again, to reach someone for help. Each time they were assured someone would get them help.
Still no one came.
"Then the power went out, and they truly thought they were going to die," Serra Williams said.
Somewhere around 3:30 a.m. Tuesday or 4 a.m. Tuesday, crews found them in the elevator, the daughter said.
"They pulled my dad out first. There was just enough of an opening and they pulled him out and set him on the curb," Serra Williams said. "By the time they got to my mom she had passed out. She was obviously more critical, so they put her in a separate ambulance. They both ended up in the same ER at UT, a few doors down from each other."
They suffered smoke inhalation. Reba Williams had a small burn on her hand because she touched hot metal as she was being pulled out. She may have a small burn on her back.
Serra Williams said she's certain the place where her parents were staying is gone. Other parts of the resort survived.
Westgate officials say they lost dozens of buildings. It's a multimillion-dollar loss. But they are vowing to reopen soon with what's left and to rebuild quickly.
By Wednesday night, the Williamses were back in Birmingham, thanks to Jody Williams, their son and Serra's brother.
Slowly they're beginning to talk about what they went through and how they thought they were going to die.
"Every time I talk to her she tells me a little bit more," Serra Williams said.
The daughter said her parents love Gatlinburg. They may have some qualms about getting back in an elevator, she said, but they're not scared in general from their experience, she said.
They aren't blaming anyone for failing to warn them sooner.
"I have no doubt they'll get back to Gatlinburg," she said. "Dad did say they had already received an email from Westgate."