The Floor Shop loses old building to fire

Wednesday, July 9, 2008
Tribune photo by Clint Confehr Lewisburg Fire Chief Larry Williams holds some of the wires where electricity arced and caused a fire.

Lewisburg firefighters doused two fires over the Independence Day weekend: One damaged a storage building beyond repair, and the other ruined a lawnmower.

Firefighter Marty Middleton was driving home from his shift at the Main Fire Station downtown when he saw a West Commerce Street building on fire and reported it to 911 on Saturday morning.

Friday, Middleton was the fire truck driver responding to the lawnmower fire at a home behind the Pizza Hut restaurant.

Cause of the lawnmower fire was unclear, but officials said the storage building burned because of an electrical wire where the electricity arced.

"I hadn't been three minutes from the Fire Hall (on Saturday morning when) I ... saw the fire billowing out the tin roof" of a storage building owned by Paul and Lauren Neese, proprietors of The Floor Shop, Middleton said. "I said I wouldn't make it home in record time that morning."

Fire Chief Larry Williams praised his firefighters for their quick response.

"The guys done good," the fire chief said. "They got a good knock down ... real quick.

"We received the call at 7:08 a.m., arrived at 7:11 a.m. and had the fire under control at 7:45 a.m.," Williams said.

Records show the fire was extinguished at 8:45 a.m. when firefighters left the scene.

Paul Neese said he and his wife have operated The Floor Shop in Lewisburg for about eight years and moved into their new building last fall.

Marshall County Property Assessor records show the building that burned was valued at $13,316 for property tax purposes. Built in 1940, it covered 3,200 square feet.

The 68-year-old structure is believed to have been a furniture warehouse, according to Neese.

"We didn't have a lot of stuff in here; just mostly personal items," he said.

Neese and his wife were at her mother's house in Camden when they were called by the Fire Department at about 8 a.m. on Saturday.

"We're just glad it didn't get this building," Neese said Monday while discussing the fire inside The Floor Shop.

Built last year, the shop is valued at $63,489 by the county appraiser's office.

Seventeen firefighters with five fire trucks responded to the West Commerce Street blaze, said Chief Williams who reported seeing the black column of smoke from near Cedar Ridge Landfill about two miles away while driving to the fire.

Lewisburg Police had West Commerce Street closed from 7:11 a.m. to 8:41 a.m., he said. Marshall County's Emergency Management Agency also responded to the call, as did special agents from the Tennessee Bomb and Arson Squad.

"The building is unsafe," Williams said. "The floor ... could be repaired, but the roof (and much of the walls) would have to come down."

Lauren Neese said, "We'll just get with our insurance company and they'll dictate what we have to do."

Meanwhile, Firefighter Middleton knows what Phillip Marsh will have to do as a result of the mid-day fire between his house and a shed.

"He'll have to use something else to mow his lawn," Middleton said.

The lawnmower "was really blazing," the firefighter said of the machine at the Marsh home on Easy Street.

"The guy was working on it and went in to get lunch," Middleton said. "He heard a noise and he thought it was fireworks. It was the Fourth of July with kids and bottle rockets.

"He looked out the window or the door and that's when they called us.

"Enroute top the address, we could see the smoke and I thought, 'Man this is really rolling,' but when we got there we saw what it was.

"We carry about 750 gallons of water and I think we used about 500 gallons on it," Middleton said.

"He was lucky that it didn't spread."