Fire Destroys Ace Hardware in Burkesville

"We had a customer come to the front and say the store is on fire"

"Shock, totally shocked. I wasn't expecting anything to ever happen like this," said Ace Hardware Manager Connie Jo Vanderpool.

It's a day Vanderpool never expected to happen.

She had to watch the store she manages, Potter's Ace Hardware, burn to the ground in downtown Burkesville.

"We had a customer come to the front and say the store is on fire, and I actually was on the phone taking an order from a customer. I thought maybe he meant the building next to us was on fire. One of the employees ran out and saw it was our building on fire, and came back in and said it was our building on fire. I more or less hung up on the customer and dialed 911," said Vanderpool.

Fire officials are not certain what caused the fire, but they do have an idea.

"Could be electrical, we're not sure yet. She said it was behind the drink box where the wires went up back into the building, but we're not through investigating it yet," said Burkesville Fire Chief Weldon Rowe.

The strong winds today unfortunately made the fire stronger and burned the building faster.

"I've been on the department 50 years, and it's one of the three fastest," said Rowe.

"Then before you knew it, it went through the rafters. It was just a matter of minutes, and it was all falling in," said Vanderpool.

Because of the wind and threat of the fire spreading, Cumberland County Schools evacuated students and sent them to Adair County.

"No, I didn't know where I was going. I was kind of tripping out a little bit. They said get on the bus, so we got on the bus and started heading toward Adair County," said Cumberland County High School Senior Qwmain Scott.

Now for Vanderpool and the rest of the Ace Hardware staff, it's a rebuilding process.

Vanderpool said they will open a make shift Ace Hardware in Burkesville, but will also be working with their fellow stores in Albany and Monticello.

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