MOOREVILLE – Tony Lee Witcher could only watch Monday afternoon as his tire store burned to the ground.
The lunchtime fire destroyed General Lee Tires at 3566 Highway 178, Mooreville.
“I was just here an hour ago,” Witcher said. “I went to my brother’s house for lunch. When we saw smoke, I jumped on my motorcycle and came right back.
“I don’t know how it started. There wasn’t any electricity in there. There wasn’t no one there. But the fire was in the building when I got back.”
A passing volunteer fireman spotted the fire on the east side of the building, located between the Tin Top Cafe and the Dollar General.
“It started on the outside with some tires and quickly spread inside,” said Mooreville-Eggville Fire Chief Ron Witte. “When rubber burns, once it gets going, it burns incredibly hot. The flames were pouring out of the building when we arrived.”
Firefighters and fire trucks from the Mooreville-Eggville, Richmond, Mantachie and Nettleton volunteer fire departments responded. While the firemen were able to keep the fire from spreading to adjacent buildings, the blaze devastated the tire shop.
“The wind was circling today,” Witte said. “It would blow one way and they blow the other. Every time you would get one part out, another would flare up.”
The fire destroyed his tools and the bulk of his tire inventory, but Witcher was able to move some vehicles and a commercial pressure washer away from the building and the fire’s reach.
“I just have to clean up and build it back,” Witcher said. “But I can do it. I started with nothing but $200, a bar, a hammer and an old truck.”
Witcher said he started renting and remodeling the property about 18 months ago and was developing a customer base. The property is owned by Jimmy Hicks.