The Tennessee Department of Agriculture (TDA) is dispelling social media rumors claiming that dozens of hungry, wounded horses are roaming the Great Smoky Mountains National Park following wildfires in the area last month.

The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency’s (TEMA) website indicates that wildfires fueled by the effects of a persistent drought developed in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on Nov. 23. By Nov. 28, TEMA warned Sevier County residents to prepare evacuate. That evening, the so-called Chimney Top Fire forced mandatory evacuations for people in Sevier County, including tourist destinations Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, home of the Dollywood resort and theme park.

The Chimney Top fire burned more than 17,000 acres, while the nearby Cobbly Nob fire burned another 803, said TEMA Public Information Officer Jim Mackensen. Additionally, 1,684 structures were damaged or destroyed and an estimated 15,000 people were evacuated from or displaced by the fire, he said.

Corinne Gould, assistant TDA commissioner, said about 20 horses were reportedly relocated to private stables out of the fire’s path and another three were evacuated to the Sevier County Fairgrounds.

“All were in good health and left the fairgrounds on Dec. 3,” Gould said. “Currently, there are no horses there to my knowledge.”

Additionally, Gould said several social media posts in the fire’s aftermath indicated that dozens of horses were turned out during the blaze were wounded, hungry, and roaming the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. However, she said these rumors appear to be unfounded, in part because the nu