SULLIGENT, Ala. (WTVA) — A state investigator is not ready to rule what caused a late night fire that damaged two buildings in downtown Sulligent, Alabama.
Fire Marshal Jason Clifton says there were storms in the area prior to the fire.
He expects to make a determination on the cause by Tuesday.
"This is the living that everybody makes. This was their jobs and you feel helpless. It's a really helpless feeling when you stand here and there's nothing you can do about it," said witness Morgan Brown.
That's what she thought as flames shot towards her family's hardware store. She couldn't do anything. She just wondered when it would end.
"You think of fire and say, 'Oh, just put it out with water.' You don't think about how big and how hard it is to control."
The fire started shortly before 10:30 p.m. Saturday. It took 13 fire departments to battle the blaze, and it didn't let up until 3:30 a.m.
Sulligent Fire Department Firefighter Chamblee Colvin said two buildings were completely destroyed, one of which includes Grand Rooms, a furniture store.
The other was a vacant building.
It also caused significant damage to a local photography shop. The owner said it will most likely be a total loss.
Other businesses on the block also suffered minor damage from smoke and water.
"It's just devastating for something like this to happen," said Police Chief Willis Stanford. "We feel so sorry for the ones that it happened to."
As witnesses think back on the fire and how it consumed the buildings so quickly, they said they're lucky it wasn't worse and fortunate no one was hurt.
"There for a minute, when the wind would gust, everything looked like it was up in flames," Brown said. "That's a sickening feeling."