WELEETKA — Friday’s fire left downtown Weleetka looking like a bomb went off, Mayor Jimpsey Micco said. There are mounds of charred brick, metal and debris covering an entire block of Main Street. The scene has become a spectacle, and people coming from other towns gawk and take snapshots with their cell phones. "It’s too bad the town can’t sell admission, because we’re going to need the money,” Micco said. Lost in the fire were an embroidery business, a gymnastics studio and the town’s sole florist. Weleetka’s only cafe, K&J Roundup Cafe, also burned to the ground. The cafe was a substantial sales tax generator, second only to the local markets. None of the businesses have insurance, so it will likely be up to the town to clean up, Micco said. He said he’s hoping the Ofuskee County commissioners will help, and that there will be volunteers with dozers, backhoes and other heavy equipment. "We’re used to having to pitch in,” Micco said. "It’s such a small town that everyone has to wear two or three hats to keep things going.” Along with being Weleetka’s mayor, Micco is the fire chief and drives a school bus. Once the fire-damaged area is cleaned up, Micco said, town officials will concentrate on redeveloping the block. Cafe owner Gail Moore said she’d like to rebuild, but it may not be financially possible. Moore and her husband, Ken Moore, have sorted through the rubble, and salvaged a sign and a few menus for memorabilia. Janis Anglin, manager of Weleetka Floral and Gifts, said it’s unknown whether another flower shop will be built in its place. "We’re so overwhelmed and still in total disbelief,” she said. "We can’t even think about starting over until we get some of this behind us.”
How did it start?Micco said the fire is thought to have started in the flower shop. An investigator with the state fire marshal’s office was there Monday trying to determine what may have caused it. Micco said the buildings were old and burned quickly. Firefighters struggled with getting good water pressure from city hydrants and lines. After about five hours of fighting the blaze, they had to rely completely on water trucked in from a nearby lake and ponds to give a break to the taxed water tower, he said.
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