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Pike County theatre owners try to move forward after devastating fire

Posted at 7:02 PM, Jan 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-26 19:05:08-05

PIKE COUNTY, Ky. (LEX 18) — Some people in Pike County are trying to figure out how to move forward after a community theatre was destroyed by a fire.

The fire broke out around 8 p.m. in Elkhorn City, bringing the roof of the Artists Collaborative Theatre crumbling down.

Nobody was inside the building at the time the fire started.

“[The building] had a heartbeat,” said Stephanie Richards, owner of the theatre.

At least six fire departments responded to fight the flames. The fire was under control by midnight, according to officials. However, flames broke out again around 6 a.m. on Sunday.

“I mean, it was a total loss [Saturday] night. But at that point, you thought you could have gotten in and seen a piece of paper or, you know, picked up a script or something,” said Richards. “There's nothing left.”

The Artists Collaborative Theatre is a non-profit founded by the Richards family in 2002. The building was built in 2008 and offered entertainment to the community year-round.

Genesia Kilgore-Bowling, president of the theatre’s board of directors, said her 17-year-old son started acting with the theatre when he was 5-years-old. The mother-son duo walked the perimeter of the smoking building Sunday, looking for surviving remnants of the building they dedicated a portion of their lives to.

“This is truly like watching our home burn,” said Kilgore-Bowling.

Firefighters retrieved a certificate from the rubble, which they turned in to Richards.

“I have one burnt certificate to hang on to,” she said. Richards explained they plan to rebuild their theatre, and the certificate will hang on the new walls.

The Elkhorn Volunteer Fire Department intended to investigate the origins of the fire on Sunday, but decided for safety reasons to wait until the scene cooled off. They’re currently still waiting, as smoke continues to rise from the site.

If you'd like to help with the fire recovery you can donate on the theater's Facebook page by clicking here.