Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 3, 2016

Business owner Mike Fudge (left) talks with Batesville Fire Chief Tim Taylor as they survey the damage from an early morning fire Monday. The Panolian photo by Rupert Howell

Three businesses destroyed in Monday fire

By Rupert Howell
A late Sunday early Monday fire destroyed three businesses in the building located on the southwest quadrant of Highways 6-278/51 in Batesville, causing at least four fire departments to help extinguish the blaze.
The building and businesses’ owner Mike Fudge and his wife were busy Monday morning along with other employees cleaning and making arrangements for the buildings and salvageable merchandise inside.
A state investigator for the Mississippi Fire Marshall’s office, David Borgognioni along with county fire investigator Mike Davis were on hand Monday morning along with City Fire Chief Tim Taylor, city code officials.
Fudge said he didn’t know how the fire began and said he could only speculate it was electrical while leaving the investigation to fire officials and his insurance company.
Batesville Fire Chief Tim Taylor said those in his department believed the fire started in the laundry mat portion of the structure.
A Facebook video reveals the rockets’ red glare reflecting on the American flag that flies high above the center of the row of businesses.
Taylor confirmed that fireworks were stored in the one of the buildings, probably the bent and dent discount grocery.
“It (fireworks) scared firemen at first,” Taylor said when asked if the fireworks made problems for those fighting the fire and added, “It didn’t last long.”
Taylor said the bigger problem was reaching the back of the building where Batesville Creek borders the west side of the long structure coming within just a few feet of the building before it goes into culvert under Highway 51.
“We had to hand lay some of the large lines,” Taylor said explaining fire hose had to be drug behind the building manually, “It took a little longer.”
Fudge said he planned to rebuild and stated the structure was “partially” insured.
The building’s owner had purchased the building from Kay Hasseltine approximately 25 years ago and had leased the spaces until approximately 10 years ago when he put his own businesses into the adjoined stores.
The building’s facade was remodeled only in the last two years and stores included a coin-operated laundry, a discount grocery and a liquor store.
Although all businesses were damaged, the liquor store on the north end of the structure suffered the least damage, mostly smoke and water according to Taylor.  
He explained the stores shared a common attic similar to the one at Batesville Elementary School that burned in July of this year.
“It is very similar construction,” Taylor said further explaining, “We pulled the ceiling in between the tobacco store (discount grocery) and liquor store to keep fire from spreading,” a lesson learned from the Elementary School fire.
Batesville Fire Department initially called Pope, Courtland and the City of Sardis for manpower assistance. They later called in Mt. Olivet and Sardis Lower Lake.
The fire began around 10:15 Sunday night and firemen were cleared the scene at approximately 2:45 Monday morning.
“I’m proud of our guys, city and county both,” Taylor said. “We very much appreciate the guys who came up to help us work.”

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox