MOULTON, Ala. - It took nearly two days to put out the fire that destroyed three businesses in downtown Moulton.
Court Street Grill owner Art Moss was nearly killed seven weeks ago when he was hit by a truck. He's in a neck brace at home. He and his wife have 23 workers suddenly out of a job. But at 78 years old, even Moss has to decide what to do next.
"I got to that intersection, that's the last thing I remember," Moss said. "Doctors told me I was really fortunate. That's the hangman's noose."
Where Highway 24 meets Highway 157, Moss and his wife were rear-ended by a semi, breaking his neck.
"I was black and blue from head to toe," Moss said.
Recovering at home the day after Easter, Moss got a sickening phone call. "The girl who's closing calls and says, 'I smell smoke, boss'. And I said get 911 and get out of there," Moss said.
Within two hours, Court Street Grill, the building where he and his wife had poured over two years of their time and money, was an inferno.
"We had some smoke and water damage, and now it's gone completely," Moss said.
Moss says he had a working sprinkler system inside the restaurant. But it wasn't enough to save the building once the fire started. If he had to guess, he says the fire will cost him about $1 million. He's now waiting on a phone call from insurance and says he may get back about half that. But he would still like to rebuild.
"I feel like if I stay home, I die. I'd rather be working. And I think that keeps me going," Moss said.
"You don't know what to think," The Willow Tree owner Craig Johnston said.
It's a daunting task for Moss and his neighbors. With a pile of smoldering bricks a few feet from his front door, Johnston isn't sure the worst is over.
"If it were to fall backwards, we could end up in the same situation as Deja Vu Salon, which is the roof caving in," Johnston said.
Demolition and cleanup are next but neighbors and business owners can't say when life in Moulton will go back to normal.
Pleasant Grove Baptist Church is inviting people to a prayer service on Thursday at 6:00 p.m. at the courthouse square.
Art and his wife plan to attend.
Organizers say if it rains, they'll move the service to the rec center on Court Street.