Southbound lanes of I-65 shut down in Morgan County because of damaged bridge

Fire That Destroyed Mentone Springs Hotel And White Elephant Antiques Under Investigation

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MENTONE, Ala. (WHNT) -- Officials are still working to find out what caused the Mentone Springs Hotel and White Elephant Antiques to burn down Saturday.

Even days later smoke still billows from the remnants of what once was a popular destination in the small town of Mentone. When the fire broke out, those watching knew it couldn't be saved, but the Mentone Volunteer Firefighters did everything their power to try. "We've planned this fire for the last seven or eight years," Assistant Chief Toby Manifold says, "Looking at it, walking through the structures, talking to county officials, you know, local departments. We knew if it ever came we would need all the help we could get from the county."

Assistant Chief Manifold says the department plans like that, as a routine. "With all of our businesses we try to pre-plan, know the structures, know the surroundings, know what we've got to work with."

So when the hotel began to burn the department was ready. Still though, fighting a fire as massive as that one wasn't easy. "Once we tapped a couple of hydrants we knew we were at max capacity. We made a couple of phone calls to Fort Payne and got them to boost the pumps and they did that for us and got us some additional water," Assistant Chief Manifold says.

In the meantime, the department had to run water from the valley. Responders from all over DeKalb County  and even from Georgia and Tennessee came to help. "Several local fireman had retired in the last few years and they all came out of the woodwork to help us and that was great, we needed all the help we could get," Assistant Chief Manifold.

Even though they couldn't save what once was an icon, responders say the fire could have been a lot worse. "If we had a west wind rather than an east wind we would have had the village to deal with."

The fire is still under investigation. There isn't an official word as to what caused the fire yet, but there is speculation that it might be related to electrical issues. Again, that's under investigation.