Officials: Mentone hotel fire likely electrical - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Officials: Mentone hotel fire likely electrical

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The Mentone Springs Hotel and a neighboring antique shop were destroyed by fire Saturday night. The Mentone Springs Hotel and a neighboring antique shop were destroyed by fire Saturday night.
Officials said the cause of the fire was likely electrical in nature. (Source: Cynthia & Nolen Stinson) Officials said the cause of the fire was likely electrical in nature. (Source: Cynthia & Nolen Stinson)
MENTONE, AL (WAFF) -

After a devastating fire Saturday night, the owners of a DeKalb County historical landmark began the arduous process of sifting through what little remains.

The Mentone Springs Hotel and the neighboring White Elephant Antique store burned to the ground in a massive fire. Multiple area fire crews assisted the Mentone team in battling the flames.

Fire officials said the cause of the fire appears to be electrical in nature, and that it started in some type of fuse or electrical box. Officials said a hotel guest saw the fire and called 911 shortly before 8 p.m. Saturday.

The fire chief said the hotel was already showing flames when they arrived.

"I couldn't believe how high those flames were and how fast because it's so old. It's like a tinderbox," said witness Lynn Holloway.

Knowing the building was full of Heart Pine wood, the chief said he knew it would be a total loss. The fire soon spread to the nearby antiques shop, and the crews' focus turned to protecting the town.

Mentone Mayor Rob Hammond said the community will mourn the loss of a historical community landmark. "It's going to hurt, there will be some jobs lost in the short-term. I certainly hope the owners will come back and put something in the beautiful spot," he said.

Approximately eight guests were staying at the hotel when the fire started. They were evacuated and re-located to other lodging. One of them was Cindy Cheatham, who said this wasn't the honeymoon she was expecting, but she's glad she and her new husband escaped without injury.

Cheatham said she understands how people can see the loss like that of a person. "This was a landmark, a treasure to the whole state of Alabama and surrounding states, and my heart breaks for everyone that's loved Mentone Springs Hotel," she said.

"One can only hope that the surrounding businesses will be sufficient to enable the entire area to survive, but I would think this is a big blow to the community," said tourist Nick Gallowich.

The question on many minds is if the hotel will be rebuilt. Owner Jim Rotch said you may not be able to replace something so unique, but you can rebuild a community. "It's got to rebuild its heart, I think that's what it means. The heart of the town is gone," he said.

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