MILLERSBURG, Ky (LEX 18) — Nearly 24 hours after a fire erupted inside a building on Main Street in downtown Millersburg, firefighters from Bourbon County were back tending to a few hot spots that were still smoldering.
During the morning hours, the city’s Vice Mayor visited the scene, and many others came to see the damage and even snap a few pictures. Some came to remember what it looked like here before Wednesday’s blaze caused total losses to many structures.
“I used to live in that white apartment. My aunt lived in that one,” said Douglas Hunt while pointing down the street. “We used to play in the post office when it was closed. The door stayed open and we went inside to play when it was raining. A lot of good times here,” he continued.
That post office sustained considerable damage during the fire, and could ultimately be declared a total loss too.
Jerry Earlywine grew up here and told a story of how he and his friends would come to the candy store on Main. He said it took only a few nickels for them to leave with a handful. Those memories will remain even as the buildings were destroyed.
“Some of these buildings are over 100 years old and now they’re completely destroyed. So that takes a toll on a community,” said Major Brian Wilson from the Bourbon County Sheriff’s office.
Kevin Hopkins is the city’s top official while the mayor is out of town, and the Vice Mayor has now spent the better part of two days at this site.
“I’ve listened to several stories as I’ve walked the sidewalks interacting with people and they just have stories about what they did on this block as children,” he said.
The Vice Mayor said discussions about building back will likely begin during Monday’s City Council meeting, and the investigation into what caused this fire is underway. Major Wilson says they will look into arson because they have to, not because they have reason to believe there was any foul play at this point. Renovations were being made to one of the office units at the time, but to claim those as a cause would be purely speculative at this point.
The good news is, no one was hurt here. Firefighters even avoided heat exhaustion despite the heat index soaring past 100 degrees yesterday afternoon.
“For them to do what they did was absolutely amazing,” Major Wilson said while noting they saved several buildings that are attached to those that were lost.
Vice Mayor Hopkins added his thanks to the fire departments from several surrounding counties that also responded. That was critical given the size and scope of the fire, and to allow for a rotation of firefighters to keep them from overheating.
But perhaps the best of this small town was on display by a civilian shop employee. Melissa Robinson saw what was going on, and took immediate action.
“I ran to the post office to tell Hillary (the employee at the time) and got her out. She was in the back of the building and had no idea.”
But Melissa’s heroism didn’t stop there.
“There were two gentlemen sleeping. I was hollering and I went into the building when it was on fire. It was crazy, and they finally came out. In minutes it was gone. His apartment was gone,” she explained.
A tall and wide brick façade later toppled over due to a strong gust of wind, coupled with the intense heat from the fire has compromised its structural integrity.
“It’s going to be a long process. It’s going to take some time to clean it up and see what’s next for our little community,” Hopkins added.
For now, they’ll have to settle for memories and sharing stories.