By Billy Davis
and Emily Williams
Tom Ellis, working inside his ornamental iron business Wednesday evening, said he heard a loud “boom” next door at Outdoor Life Taxidermy.
Then, about fives minutes later, he saw the smoke. It was seeping through a locked door that joins his business with Tony Coy’s empty taxidermy shop.
Then it began pouring in a back door.
Then it was time to get out.
Ellis said he grabbed only a few paint cans before he watched, along with a throng of onlookers, as a fast-moving fire destroyed the wood building in north Batesville.
As firefighters battled the blaze, Ellis told a reporter he was losing $25,000 of uninsured equipment in the fire.
Coy, standing farther south, watched the blaze with a group of supportive friends.
“I really hate it for my customers,” he remarked.
A spokesman for the Batesville Fire Department said the state fire marshal’s office had inspected the blaze Thursday, ruling it accidental.
The cause of the fire was still undetermined at press time Thursday.
Ellis identified developer Larry Montgomery as the property owner.
Batesville firefighters attacked the fire with their ladder truck, which sprayed 1,500 gallons a minute from above, and also uncoiled six lines from other fire trucks.
“It was around 200,000 gallons of water put on that building,” said firefighter Brett Childs. “But the fire got in the tin roof, and it got hot.”
The Batesville Fire Department was aided by firefighters representing Sardis, Sardis Lower Lake, Pope, Courtland, Bynum, Cole’s Point and Red Hill.