GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. -- Firefighters battled a blaze in the heart of Guntersville on Tuesday morning. The fire destroyed the building that housed Hollaway Law Office on Blount Avenue.
Guntersville Fire and Rescue responders got the call around 9 a.m. Firefighters found the building nearly half involved in fire. Fire officials say there were two people inside the business at the time of the fire on the second floor. One of them heard a noise and noticed smoke coming up the stairwell, but the heavy smoke kept them from going to the first floor.
Fire officials say the two people made their way out to a small second floor porch where they climbed to the small roof area over the first floor porch. Both of them escaped that way. Responders took one of them to the hospital for minor injuries.
There's no word yet on what caused the fire. Fire officials are investigating.
The smoke from the fire pinpointed its location on Blount Avenue. Guntersville Police officers rerouted traffic to Gunter Avenue. Dozens of people stepped outside in the hot sun to watch the firefighters combat the blaze. The overall mood was somber. Before 9 a.m that morning, the building was a beautiful staple on a heavily traveled route through town. By 11 a.m, it was a crumbling shell of what it used to be.
"My children practically grew up in that house. It was so monumental for us, and I loved that house," said Laura Taylor.
Taylor was one of the people who came to see for herself what became of the building. It has a special place in her family's life. She and her husband used to own it. "This house was started in 1907 and completed in 1911. We were only the fifth owners of that house," Taylor explained.
Former owners spanned decades and included a railroad supervisor and a dentist when Guntersville was a different place. It sat still while Guntersville changed and grew.
"We spent 15 years in that building as Taylor Mortgage," Taylor said.
She and her husband renovated the building. Taylor said she liked to think about the history it saw as times changed around it.
Eventually, they had to let go of the building. Taylor said it was hard to do.
A friend told her about the fire Tuesday morning. "I immediately began to cry," Taylor said. She debated coming to see what it looked like, but in the end, she made the trip.
"It's a sad, sad situation that it's gone. It's such a part of this town's history and such a part of my history. It's heartbreaking."