Thursday, January 12, 2006

Grass fire ignites greenhouse; owner continues restoration


A fire last week at Angel Wings Greenhouse put a damper on the revival of the business by the new owner but it’s not stopping her.

The Cayce and Red Banks fire departments responded to the blaze at approximately 3 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 3.

Harry Willis, Cayce’s assistant chief, said the fire was limited to one of the greenhouses, basically destroying everything but the framework. Tables, benches and pipe inside the structure were destroyed, along with the plastic covering over the framework. Firemen were on the scene for about 40 minutes.

Donna Taggart moved to the area and purchased the once successful but decaying business on Highway 178 between Victoria and Byhalia nine months ago.

“I’m going to stay and get this place back on its feet,” said Taggart, who has 15 years’ experience in the field in West Point and Fulton. “It has changed hands so many times.

“This (the fire) put me behind, but since it’s this early in the year, I have time to catch up before spring gets here.”

Volunteers helped with cleanup and rebuilding the roof over the weekend.

There are seven greenhouses. Taggart plans to operate three.

“I want to build it up slowly,” she said.

Taggart urges the public to overlook the outside of the business for the time being.

“It may take a while to get it looking like it should, but it’s what’s on the inside that counts,” she said. “I grow my own plants here; I don’t ship them in. My plant material is top notch.”

Taggart said she was burning grass between the greenhouses Tuesday morning, Jan. 3. Then four hours after the burnover, the fire ignited again and reached the greenhouse.

She said she hopes this will serve as a lesson to others who are burning on their own.

There has been a rash of grass fires in several states, including Mississippi, due to dry conditions. Hugh Hollowell, county fire services coordinator, said Marshall County has not been overwhelmed.

“We’re having some, maybe a little above average, but not as many as I figured,” Hollowell said. “If things continue on, and we don’t get widespread rain, we might have to enter the thought of of a burn ban, but we’re not to that point yet.”

He did urge the public “to be cautious under these conditions,” which include dryness and wind.

“I believe folks are being more cautious, and learning to manage these things better,” Hollowell said.

Kenny Holbrook, Holly Springs fire chief, agreed. He said most people are keeping their fires under control.

Holbrook said most grass fires his department has responded to were “contained to the property they started on.”

“No one has lost any major property,” he said.

But just like Hollowell, he said, be careful.

“If you light one, stay with it,” Holbrook said. “We’ve been fortunate so far, but one can get away in a hurry.”

Parts of the county received rainfall Monday and more was forecast for Tuesday.

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