Ashley Rodrigue / Eyewitness News
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BOGALUSA-As rain poured over twisted metal, broken brick walls and charred equipment Monday, the owner of Economy Tire on Georgia Avenue remembered the eerie feeling of 'something wrong' when he woke up Saturday morning.That feeling was confirmed around 7:30 a.m.
'Coming into town, I seen the smoke, and I knew it was my shop.I knew it,' said Danny Ducote.
The tire shop, a commercial A/C business, a mechanic-body shop, a used car dealership, and a karate studio all burned for hours.Investigators say they believe the fire started at the body shop, but because the businesses were adjoined, they all went up in flames together.
'I'm gonna pick up the pieces and see what I can salvage,' said Ducote, 'Lord's blessed me before, he'll bless me again.'
The loss isn't just for the five business owners here, it's also for the community in regards to the services they provided and the city, in regard to tax revenue.
'It's definitely a devastation to the city for us to have lost these businesses and, moreover, a devastation to the families,' said City Administrator Jerry Bailey.
And for a town that was just beginning to turn things around economically, starting 2014 with several businesses closed to customers isn't the outlook they were hoping for.
Bailey said, 'I would estimate that probably 20 to 25 people were employed by these businesses and when you figure in their family in there, you're talking maybe 60 to 75 people that are going to have a definite impact on the way they live.'
Now the city is vowing to help any business aiming to return in any way they can.
Early property damage estimates are around $2 million, but the city administrator says it's likely closer to $10 million when factoring in loss of income, taxes and salaries.
The State Fire Marshal's Office is still investigating the cause.
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