Business owners, community look ahead after devastating fire in Moulton

The fire on the downtown square in Moulton has left many people wondering what's next.

Posted: Apr 23, 2019 8:30 PM
Updated: Apr 23, 2019 10:32 PM

WAAY 31 spoke with business owners who were impacted by the devastating fire in Moulton Monday night.

One of the business’ owners even lost their home in the blaze.

“It’s probably one of my worst nightmares," Kelly Proctor said.

Proctor and her boyfriend have owned Tucker’s Tire & Auto for about ten years, and tthey've lived above the business for just as long.

So, when Proctor got a phone call Monday night, saying a neighboring business had caught fire, she panicked.

“The smoke was billowing already out of the top of the roof," she said. "So, we stood and watched it, waiting for the fire trucks. It went downhill from there.”

The fire that started at Court Street Grill around 8:00 p.m. Monday quickly made it’s way to other businesses, including Proctor’s, just before 2:00 a.m. on Tuesday.

Several fire departments from Lawrence County and Morgan County responded to the blaze.

“People from off the street were coming in and helping us grab everything," Proctor said. "Our whole lives were basically sitting out on the sides of the street, thanks to those people.”

And while Proctor was hit the hardest, losing her business and her home, others suffered, too.

“This business means the world to me. It means the world to my vendors," Craig Johnston, owner of The Willow Tree, said. "My shop is made up of local artisans and creators that represent this community. This is what a lot of them do to make extra money and sell their creativity.”

In the meantime, Proctor and other business owners are keeping a positive attitude, and they agree that the most important thing is that no one was hurt.

“We lost quite a few things: antiques, glassware, things that can’t be replaced; but as long as we’re safe and the firefighters are safe—nobody was injured—that can be replaced," Proctor said.

The fire on the downtown square in Moulton has left many people wondering what's next.

These five businesses were damaged: Court Street Grill, Tucker's Tire & Auto, Deja Vu Salon, The Willow Tree, and Jeremy's Lock & Key.

Some business owners already have their eye on the future and are ready to get to work rebuilding.

WAAY 31 learned what some folks want to see happen after the heartbreaking loss.

“I was raised in it. I worked in it," said David Alexander. "I didn’t get to get out and play much with the kids, because I had to put together bicycles, tricycles, lawnmowers, wheelbarrows, and things like that.”

David Alexander said his dad built the building that now houses Court Street Grill. He told WAAY 31 his father opened a hardware store in 1949--the same year Alexander was born--and it’s been a part of his life ever since.

“Memories just keep going around in my head, things that we did growing up in that store," Alexander said.

When the building caught fire Monday night, Alexander’s memories, and many others', went with it.

“You sit there and you cry, because this is history and it’s people’s livelihoods, and it’s being destroyed and we’re losing it," said Wendy Hazle. "That’s why so many people are here, to try and show our support and our love for our history.”

“It just took part of me away. It’s even tough for me to talk about it now," Alexander added. "There’s going to be a blank spot in me, my family, and the city.”

WAAY 31 spoke with the director of the Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce, who actually owns one of the affected businesses. He says it’s a huge blow to everyone who calls Moulton "home."

“It’s just a tremendous hit at the heart of Moulton," Craig Johnston said. "We lost multiple great buildings that have a lot of history. They mean a lot to the people in this community, and not just for their past, but their present.”

However, Johnston is certain the community will pick up the pieces and move on from the fire. He said he expects a bright future for the city of Moulton.

“The one thing I’m sure of: this is a resilient community and we’ll come back. We’ll build back and we will grow from this," Johnston said. "I am confident, knowing these business owners, they are also very resilient, they believe in this community and want to be in this community. I believe they’ll be back. It will come back soon, with a lot of hard work and focus.”

Many people hope to see the things they loved in the past remembered in whatever is to come.

“We will try to save as much of the history as we can of these buildings, and incorporate that into what’s built going forward," Hazle said.

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