Fire destroys Fugate’s skating rink, two other businesses

Cris Ritchie — Editor

December 16, 2013

Three Perry County businesses were lost Monday in an early morning fire, including a well-known skating rink, and investigators will be working in the coming days to determine what caused the blaze.

Starla Bell, who owned the photography studio and floral shop beside Fugate’s Skating Center just off of Highway 15, stood outside of the building Monday morning looking over the remnants of her businesses, which just hours before had burned to the ground. She described the incident as a “total loss.”

“I couldn’t get anything out — computers, all the equipment, all the florals, everything,” she said.

Bell opened her businesses in December 2010. As of this morning, however, nothing was left but charred remains.

“I just can’t believe it,” she added. “Everything is gone.”

Bell said she got a call about the fire just after 4 a.m. When she arrived, the flames had already engulfed a portion of the skating rink. And while firefighters were able to save a residence directly behind the building, the fire was too far gone to save anything else.

Bell’s father, Kidd Fugate, opened Fugate’s Skating Center along with his two brothers in 1980. The rink, which for years has been a popular hangout for area youth, was also a complete loss.

Hazard Fire Chief Sam Stacy said his department was called in to assist on the fire at 4:25 a.m. The original call was made to the Grapevine/Chavies Fire Department at approximately 4:15. Departments from Jakes Branch and Avawam also responded to assist.

Stacy said by the time his department arrived the building was fully involved, and it was nearly three hours before firefighters were able to leave the scene.

No injuries were reported as a result of the fire, Stacy added, and the state fire marshal was called in to begin an investigation.

As for Bell, she said it’s too early to know if she will rebuild her businesses, but she is thankful for the response she has received from people in the community offering their support. “It’s been amazing the support people have showed, friends and family,” she said.