July 4, 2011 at 6:26 PM CDT - Updated June 24 at 2:44 PM
BRANDENBURG, KY (WAVE ) - Fire crews in Meade County are keeping a close eye on a smoldering strip mall in Brandenburg. It was destroyed fire Saturday night. The building has been a fixture in the community since the 1960s. Now it's just a mangled mess of metal.
Because of its age there were no sprinklers or fire walls, and the fire was just too much for more than two dozen fire departments and 150 firefighters.
"It's been a vital part of our community, and the loss of it is going to have an impact," Meade County Fire Protection District Chief Larry Naser said.
It's already having an impact on the 55 people who worked at the eight businesses at the strip mall including the Meade County Clothes Closet and Food Pantry. It was a 3,000 square foot non-profit known for helping fire victims.
"I keep wanting to turn around and look at it thinking maybe when I turn around the next time it won't be so bad, but that's just wishful thinking," Manager Linda Whelan said.
Saturday night flames and thick black smoke shot into the sky destroying the building below.
"The fire got past us. We had initial hopes of cutting it off midway in the building. Within 25 minutes we had smoke coming out of the south end of the building," Chief Naser said.
Despite their loss, Whelan and her team of volunteers are determined to keep helping those in the community with plans to open a temporary food pantry next week.
"This is not the first time we've had to re-group. The tornado several years ago took our building, and the Lord led us here," Whelan told us.
The fire is still under investigation, and several agencies will be looking into how the fire started. Right now they're thinking it started in the north end of the building in a smoke shop.
The building's owners told the tenants they've hired 24-hour security to keep an eye on what's left of the building and contents inside. No one was hurt, but a firefighter was treated for heat exhaustion.