Hurricane evacuees from FL have bear encounter in Pigeon Forge

(PHOTO: T. Gonzalez / WZTV)

A Florida man and his family fleeing to Tennessee to avoid Hurricane Irma found experienced a different type of natural disaster at Pigeon Forge.

Travis Gonzalez of West Palm Beach says like other Floridians, they were watching Irma's projected path earlier this month and decided they would evacuate to be safe. They settled on a cabin for rent on Silver Poplar Lane in Pigeon Forge and made the long trek to Tennessee, according to a report from our sister station WZTV.

"Of course, the moment we arrive to the cabin, we saw the path had changed," Gonzalez says. He and the family still stayed to wait things out and two days into their stay, his son went outside to walk the dog.

"He came running inside saying there were bears around and on top of the car," Gonzalez says. Travis walked outside and didn't see any bears around or on top of the SUV, so he came back inside.

A few minutes later, his son noticed something moving inside the SUV. Somehow, the mother bear and her cubs had locked themselves inside of the SUV. Gonzalez bravely decided to run outside and open the door so the bears could escape.

The brave move was captured on video and Gonzalez says at the time the bears didn't look that big. But after watching the video, he says he may have made a different decision. "I thought they were just cubs but after seeing the momma I would have thought twice."

The bears did a number on the interior of his SUV, tearing up the seats which now have to specially repaired since they are no longer sold and tearing up the dashboard. Gonzalez and his family are now back home but have a heck of a story to tell....and show.

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