UPDATE: Multiple fire companies from across the Tennessee Valley responded to a massive fire that burned a corner of downtown Athens, Saturday.
The fire broke out in a building on Washington Avenue. Firefighters worked for hours to put out the flames, several businesses in the area sustained damages as well.
Officials say about 5 or 6 businesses were affected by smoke and water damage and some owners tell Channel 3, their entire inventory is a total loss.
"There's quite a bit of water damage," said Rob Preston, Pres. & CEO of Athens Area Chamber of Commerce. " We have a basement and the basement got completely flooded."
It's much the same over at Johnson's Home Furnishings Inc. where every item in the store has now lost value. Owner, Emmette Johnson says the water pooled 5 feet into his basement.
"All that furniture down there was just floating," said Johnson. " It was coming through the front glass here and you can kind of see where it came through upstairs. It was going through the basement, it was going through a lot of different places and just the smoke... we were smoke-filled."
Johnson says a woman living upstairs heard the smoke alarms. She was able to get her mother and two six-year-olds out safely in the dark
"Yea we are blessed that fire didn't breach the wall and come through because it could have been catastrophic and nobody was hurt. On that angle you know things can be replaced, but people can't so we are really fortunate."
The Logan-Thompson law firm recently purchased the historic building and was renovating it. Jim Logan tells Channel 3 his plans to move into Athens haven't changed.
"My hope, my prayer, my desire is going to be that we rebuild right there and we are going to try and replicate as best we can the historic building," said Logan.
Community members say they're thankful for the quick response of firefighters. Right now they're just focusing on what can be saved.
"It was a team effort and everybody acted quickly," said Preston. "I mean we had damage obviously but it could have been so much worse and we are so thankful that it wasn't."
State Fire Marshals have ruled this fire to be accidental but the exact cause of the blaze is still under investigation.
State fire marshals have now ruled a massive fire that tore through downtown Athens as accidental.
Saturday, January 20 2018 10:29 PM EST2018-01-21 03:29:09 GMT
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