SEVIER COUNTY, Tenn. (WVLT) -- 13-year-old EmiSunshine and her mother, Alisha Hamilton, spend a lot of time on their tour bus that doubles as her homeschool classroom when the family goes on the road for Emi's shows.
The bus served as their camper last November when they went for a girls' getaway near Gatlinburg. They said when they first asked about the smoke settling in on November 28, 2016, they were told it wouldn't impact them.
"Five minutes later, they come up to the door on the bus and say, 'Well, the fire's in this area, you guys need to evacuate, it could be here,' and it freaked me out," Emi recalled.
"I was the most scared out of everybody on the bus. I was the most scared. I kind of panicked," Emi's mother said. "The smoke was so thick that we couldn't even see two feet in front of our faces."
"Yeah, we used bandanas to cover our mouths and everything," Emi chimed in.
The group did not have a bus driver, but a stranger stepped up to drive their bus away from the campground to safety.
"He was just an angel who come to us and got us to safety," Emi said.
The family learned that the volunteer driver and his wife were vacationing from Louisiana.
Flames missed the campground, but the heat and smoke invaded the area. Soon, the family started seeing news of those who were not able to escape the fire.
"We heard that a man had lost his wife and children in the fires, and it just devastated us," Emi said. "It could have been me. That could have been my family."
Emi's song Resting Place has become a musical tribute to lost lives and homes, to mountain strength and the season for rebuilding.
"We thought, you know, sometimes you gotta put a little pain out there to help people get a little bit of joy," Emi said.