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An emotional day as Gatlinburg families return to find what's left of home

For hundreds of people, Friday carried mixed emotions as they returned to their homes for the first time since fire tore through Gatlinburg Monday night.

Officials say about 1,000 building within Sevier County have been destroyed or heavily damaged.

Most areas of Gatlinburg were open between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. for people to go back through their neighborhoods and find out what was left.

Families braved long lines of traffic to get a look at home in the fire evacuation zone for the first time.

Among them was the Gorman family, who knew their Ski Mountain home was safe, but their main concern was for a dog and cat who were trapped there as the fires raged close by.

“I just want to get to my babies. I just want to get to my house to see if my babies are ok,” Patti Gorman said.

After passing burned building after burned building while driving through town, they reached their neighborhood, which was untouched by fire.

Reuniting with their pets they hadn’t seen since Monday morning was a happy occasion.

Others, like Joel Poole, weren’t so lucky. Poole’s home on Baskins Creek is now just cinders.

But even digging through the ruins, he said he finds some calm.

“You know, it’s closure, it's closure, I man. I know there’s nothing left so I can move on,” he said.

And even on one of Gatlinburg’s darkest days, Poole found a small light in the piles of soot.

“I found my wife’s wedding ring ... Win-win,” he said.

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