Local Town 'Picking Up the Pieces' Following Fire - SLIDE SHOW

By: Caroline Gonzmart Email
By: Caroline Gonzmart Email

[UPDATE] 4-29 1pm -

Join WCTV reporter Caroline Gonzmart as she takes a look at how residents in one South Georgia town are recovering after a fire destroyed much of the downtown area.

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After a storm, it's typical to see tree limbs and debris scattered around -- but in Donalsonville, Georgia, piles of rubble and roofing create a scene that's far more horrific.

The destruction is all that remains after the Cherry Street fire -- which started when lightning hit one of the old stores downtown, then quickly spread to nearby buildings.

Fire Chief Travis Brooks says at one point, the flames almost spread to the adjoining fire house.

Says Brooks, "We had lines pulled up to the second story and we were fighting fire from the second story window of the fire department."

Now, eight of the city's downtown buildings have been reduced to charred plaster and twisted metal -- and the livelihoods of many are tied up in the destruction.

Bobby Black's parents own the store where the fire is believed to have started.

Says Black, "My mom never cries -- and when I hear her crying I know something's wrong. They're completely devastated -- they have no idea."

To make matters worse, many business owners say they didn't have insurance on their buildings, and now they're wondering how they're going to pay for the clean-up.

Continues Black, "What we need more than anything is just an arm and a leg and a good back to support, you know, lifting and picking up."

Atherlone Trawick's barber shop stands just feet from the perimeter of the fire -- she says she's 'blessed' that the wind shifted and spared her building.

Says Trawick, "These people have lost their businesses, and, you know ... my heart just aches for them."

Though it's only a matter of time until the smoke and soot are cleaned from the site, many will never be able to clear it from their minds.

The fire chief says even though the fire is out, collapsed metal roofs have left many 'hot spots', or areas where flames could flare up -- as such, firefighters are remaining vigilant to make sure another blaze doesn't break out.


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