When flames engulfed downtown Beattyville Thursday, London business owner Jay Nolan could only shake his head. He’d been at work at J. Frank Publishing off Hal Rogers Parkway when he heard the news.
“I was not a happy camper,” he said.
Nolan is one of the owners of The Beattyville Enterprise, the local newspaper that was one of the casualties of the conflagration.
“We didn’t actually get destroyed by flames, it was the smoke and water damage,” Nolan said.
The fire started in Jack’s IGA around 7 a.m. and spread to Rose Bros. Department Store. The second-floor newspaper office got caught in the crossfire. Firefighters from 10 stations were called in to get the blaze under control; Laurel County’s fire departments were not dispatched.
While the flames spread, Beattyville Enterprise editor Edmund Shelby got to work covering the incident — even while his own office was destroyed in the process.
Eventually, crews were able to contain the fire and save the post office and health department next door.
“It could have been a lot worse for the community down there,” Nolan said. “We’re thankful they were able to put it out when they did.”
Still, the loss for the 126-year-old newspaper is devastating.
“Anything they had in that building is gone,” Nolan said.
Of yesterday’s issue, Nolan said papers had already been distributed in newsstands and “they’d just put the papers in the post office to go out.”
As for rebuilding, Nolan said he and the ownership group are assessing the situation.
“We’re looking internally across the group in terms of resources, computers, technology to help them out,” he said. “We’re planning to do next week’s paper at one of the other offices ... We’re going to see if we can use the Clay County or the Breathitt County locations.”
As for the reporters, Nolan said they are in shock, but he is facing the loss with a positive outlook.
“You just deal with it,” he said. “We had a lightning strike at the Barbourville office (recently). It’s just something you deal with. Life goes on.”
Staff writer Tara Kaprowy can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com.
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