Fire rips through two businesses in south end strip mall

By Matt McCutcheon - e-mail | bio | facebook

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - A charred shell of a structure remains in the 3300 block of Preston Highway, after a fire that sent flames high into the sky around 4:30 Monday morning. The flames were so high that they could easily be seen along I-65 near the Watterson Monday morning.

"As a matter of fact, Metro Safe [Dispatch] called us en route and told us they could actually see from their video camera they have on the interstate and they could see the flames roll up above the railroad tracks," said Lt. Col. Glenn Nally with Louisville Fire and Rescue.

The flames were so intense that the fire melted and peeled away siding from nearby buildings.

Duane Anderson's family has leased the now charred building that housed part of their "Cycle Works" business.

They moved it to Preston Highway about 15 years ago, but it's been in the family even longer, making for something Duane Anderson has grown up with.

"I broke down, I mean I completely lost it," Anderson said. "I'm a grown man, but you lose something you've been working on your whole life to maintain, and it's heartbreaking."

The family just started renovating the front part, which is where the fire is believed to have started.

They say there was no electricity to that part of the building, but Anderson has his own theory about what sparked the blaze, based on a past confrontation.

"We had a situation where I run some homeless out," Anderson said. "They live out back, and the next day they tried to catch the building on fire."

But fire investigators continue to search for a cause.

"When you get a fire this heavily involved when you get here, it's very difficult for us to initially determine the cause," Lt. Col. Nally said.

Now Anderson and his family are left to decide what's next.

"It's going to take a long time for it to absorb," Anderson said. "I just don't know. I'm just beside myself right now," Anderson said.

The family says they have insurance. LG&E and other utility crews were on the scene Monday morning, as were other investigators.

The fire quickly caused headaches for early morning commuters, with traffic at a standstill for a few hours as fire crews worked to battle the blaze.

It took about 26 minutes to gain control of the flames, fire officials say.

Traffic on Preston Highway near the fire was backed up for hours, but had reopened by 8:30 a.m.

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