Former Tampa couple homeless after wildfire destroys new Tennessee home

Thousands have been forced to evacuate
Posted at 5:21 PM, Dec 01, 2016

A longtime Tampa family has been forced out of their home in Tennessee after dangerous wildfires destroyed it and everything inside.

Wildfires have resulted in the mandatory evacuations of thousands of people and destroyed hundreds of homes in east Tennessee.

"Naturally, at 2 A.M. I'm getting a call, my first thing was something happened, but that call was she had lost everything," said Kelli Martin.

Martin has been worried sick all week after learning her mother and stepfather were forced to leave their Gatlinburg home in a panic.

"We saw 30 foot flames," said Karen Pelc. "There were fires all around us, the noise of the fire and of the trees breaking was heartbreaking."

Karen and Greg Pelc, originally from Tampa, only had time to grab their marriage certificate and pets.

They were rushed out leaving behind all of their belongings and medications.

“Things that can’t be replaced, you know, but I mean I know our life is more important than that stuff," said Karen Pelc. "But it's heartbreaking, it’s heartbreaking.”

The Pelc's are now living in an emergency shelter with hundreds of others who have also been displaced.

They moved to the tourist mountain town two years ago searching for a new environment to live in.

Now, wildfires have forced the former Florida couple to start all over once again.

"They got the right mindset so I think they'll be OK," said Martin.

Family members have set up a GoFundMe account to help the Pelc's replace items lost in the fire.