10,000 animals trapped in Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies are ‘OK’ as Tennessee wildfires rage

GATLINBURG, Tenn. — Wildfires around Gatlinburg, Tennessee, have forced workers at an aquarium to evacuate, but the animals inside are fine as well as the aquarium itself.

Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies which has been threatened by wildfires in Gatlinburg is intact and running on a generator.

At a news conference Tuesday, Sevier County Mayor Larry Waters said Ripley's Aquarium was OK as of Tuesday morning. Workers there evacuated and have been worried about the more than 10,000 animals housed there.

Gatlinburg Fire Chief Greg Miller says 12 people have been injured in the wildfires in the Gatlinburg area, most with non-life-threatening injuries. He said they haven't received any reports of missing people.

Miller said the fire spread Monday night by winds that at times exceeded 87 miles per hour.

A screenshot of the website for Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies is pictured on Nov. 29, 2016.

A screenshot of the website for Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies is pictured on Nov. 29, 2016.

Ryan DeSears, general manager of Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies, tells WBIR-TV that the building was still standing and all workers evacuated last night.

He says the animals should be safe as long as the building has power and doesn't catch fire.

The wildfire set 30 buildings ablaze and forced the evacuation of downtown Gatlinburg and the surrounding area.

The aquarium's website was essentially taken down early Tuesday, with a simple message on the homepage telling visitors: "We are sorry. Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies is temporarily closed due to the fires in the Gatlinburg area. We will keep you updates as soon as we reopen..."

Multiple updates, including videos of smoke surrounding the aquarium, have been posted on its Facebook page. The latest update says the animals are safe and under care: