Jul 8, 2012 9:55 PM
A historic building in McCreary County was damaged by fire overnight Sunday. The Stearns Company building stood in downtown Stearns since the early 1900's. Now, a community is left to clean up the mess.
"I remember getting clothing here. I remember my parents buying furniture here," says Buddy Wilson, with the McCreary County Historical Society. "This was a key part of the community with the historical aspect of it."
The fire broke out around 11 p.m. Saturday and the flames could be seen into the early morning hours. The building burned from the roof down, destroying the restaurant.
The structure has been around long before McCreary County even had a name.
"The Stearns Company started 10 years before we were a county," says Wilson. "It was sort of like the original Walmart."
Fire crews say they believe a mulch pile caught on fire then spread to the building.
"They got out of the car and was trying to stomp the thing out; it was that small, and all of a sudden it got into this shrub right here and just went right up," says Wilson.
The business wasn't well-received by everyone, but there's no doubt it made a big impact on the town.
"There are a lot of different opinions about the Stearns Company and the county but if you liked the Stearns Company or didn't like them, it was a significant part of our history," says Wilson.
Other businesses within the Stearns Building are still open. The restaurant portion was the only section damaged. A meeting has been scheduled for Wednesday to determine the future of the building.