San Francisco 49ers

‘It’s just a tragedy’: 49ers’ Kilgore helping Tennessee fire victims

San Francisco 49ers center Daniel Kilgore (67) during the first half of an NFL football game against the New Orleans Saints Sunday, Nov. 6, 2016, in Santa Clara, Calif.
San Francisco 49ers center Daniel Kilgore (67) during the first half of an NFL football game against the New Orleans Saints Sunday, Nov. 6, 2016, in Santa Clara, Calif. AP

ORLANDO, Fla. -- The wildfires that have scorched thousands of acres in Tennessee have devastated a part of the state 49ers center Daniel Kilgore said he cherishes.

"It's just a tragedy. It's awful," said Kilgore, who grew up in Kingsport, Tenn., about a 45- minute drive from Gatlinburg, the resort town on the edge of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park that has been hit hardest by the fire.

"That part of the country is the most beautiful. It's God's country to me," Kilgore said. "Being born and raised in northeast Tennessee, you know about Gatlinburg, you know about Pigeon Forge and the people that work so hard there."

The fires have killed at least 10, injured at least 74 and destroyed more than 700 homes and businesses. More than 14,000 have been forced to evacuate the area.

Kilgore said he and his wife are helping with an effort in Kingsport that is sending tractor trailers full of water, food, supplies and anything else to make the upcoming holidays more bearable for those affected by the blazes.

"Whatever we can do to bring some sense of joy for the holidays," he said, "Whatever we can do, we're going to do it."

Kilgore said he and his family recently spent their summer vacation in one of the spots burned by the fire. He noted that Dollywood theme park, which largely was unharmed by the fire, employs actors and other workers who live in the area.

"It's going to affect a lot of people," he said. "But the one thing I know about being from that part of the country, being from northeast Tennessee is that that community is strong."

Here’s how to help those affected by the fires.

Matt Barrows: @mattbarrows, read more about the team at sacbee.com/sf49ers.

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