Fire destroys Harrodsburg building

June 11, 2004|ANN R. HARNEY

HARRODSBURG - The building and most of the contents of Southern Accents were destroyed by fire Thursday night, but the business was up and running this morning.

The building on East Office Street that used to house Southern States and more recently was the home of USA Signs "was about totaled," according to Harrodsburg Fire Chief Marshall Hockersmith.

Kitty Thompson and Mark Thompson bought the business in the fall of 2000. They were joined more recently by Alise Will. They moved into the building owned by Bobby Thompson in October.

The fire is tinged with irony. Kitty Thompson said today that normally she would have been there when the fire broke out. It was reported to Central Dispatch at 7:05 p.m.


She was not there. "The night before we had clients in from Winchester doing a final design review," she said today. Southern Accents remodels kitchens and baths, and Thompson said they have clients from all over the state.

"I didn't leave until 9:30 p.m.," she said of Wednesday night. "The night before that I was there until 7:30 p.m., but I left a little after six (Thursday) because I had worked 52 hours and I was so tired."

Twenty-eight firefighters responded

Hockersmith said he was able to put 28 firefighters on the scene because most of the force was at the fire department building undergoing a drill. Harrodsburg firefighters were assisted by about 11 members of the Mercer County Central Station Fire Department, and the Burgin Fire Department sent what Hockersmith called a rehab unit to be on hand if it was needed to assist firefighters who might need medical attention. Burgin firefighters also stood by at the Harrodsburg department's building.

One firefighter, Capt. Billy Phillips, was taken to James B. Haggin Memorial Hospital for heat exhaustion and was treated and released to return to the fire scene. Two other firefighters received minor burns, a spokesman for the fire department said today.

The firefighters battled not only the blazes but the heat of the day exacerbated by the fire and the heavy turn-out suits they wear. Support units provided bottled water and the rehab unit brought fans.

Firefighters were able to save the business files, and Kitty Thompson said they were drying in her garage. Two items especially precious to Thompson were a 1929 A&T Stradivarius violin and a mandolin, both of which belonged to her father who died last year.

The two instruments had been in a storage building in Nicholasville, but she had brought them to her office just recently. Firefighter Gary Griffieth got a hug from Thompson when he carried the cases out from the burning building and handed them to her.

A lot of work had been done on the building

Kitty Thompson said she and her partners had just purchased an expensive display and in the last several months had done extensive remodeling and renovation of the building. A working kitchen and bath with expensive finishing and furnishings were lost in the fire, too. The business has increased 400 percent since moving to the larger building from a building next to the Opera House on Beaumont Avenue.

"The people in this town are wonderful," said Thompson, who stood with friends watching as fire consumed the building despite the best efforts of firefighters. At times she was in tears, and at other times talking with friends who had joined her at the scene.

"The support from everybody kept me from passing out," she said.

The cause of the fire is not known and may never be known, Hockersmith said. He said the building was not insured, but Kitty Thompson said the contents were. That has not stopped Southern Accents from doing business.

A question remains as to the new home for the business. Today it is at Kitty Thompson's house. Contacted at home, she said crew members were standing in her driveway, waiting for instructions. "We're up and running," she said. "All three of us are so passionate about what we do."

Central Kentucky News Articles