Major Fire Destroys Downtown Atmore Business, Threatens Entire City Block (With Photo Gallery And Video)

October 12, 2014

Fire destroyed a downtown Atmore business early this morning and threatened the remainder of a city block.

The fire was reported about 12:45 a.m. in The Parish Grill, a downtown restaurant open only a few months. Atmore firefighters reported smoke showing from the establishment when they arrived on scene. The Poarch Fire Department and the Walnut Hill Station of Escambia (FL) Fire Rescue were called to assist, along with later responds from the McDavid Station of Escambia (FL) Fire Rescue and fire departments from Bay Minette and Brewton. was the first media on the scene shortly before 1:00, and heavy smoke was rolling from the two story building at the time, prior to the arrival of the Walnut Hill and Poarch fire departments.

For an exclusive photo gallery, click here.

For exclusive raw video from the scene, click here.

The smoke became heavier and heavier, rolling into the night sky above the downtown area. As the smoke rolled out of the building, it appeared to be coming from the second story of the adjacent buildings, including the Smith Trading Company in the old Atmore Hardware building and the historic Strand Theater.

By 1:30 a.m., it appeared firefighters were making little progress in knocking back the fire as they attacked it from the front and rear of the building. A short time later, flames reaching 30-40 feet into the air erupted from near the back of the building.  At that point, firefighters pulled out of the building, and an Atmore Fire Department ladder truck was used to make an aerial attack on the blaze, extinguishing the towering flames.  But heavy smoke continued to pour from the structure. The ladder truck operator reported that most of the building’s roof had collapsed.

For the next several hours, firefighters alternated fighting the fire from inside the building and aerially from the ladder truck. Small patches of flame would repeatedly burst through the top of the building. The building was a total loss.

As of about 5:00 a.m., the building was still burning.

Carl Anderson, the owner of  one adjacent business, Carl’s/The Tot Shop, said his building suffered smoke and water damage. Anderson also owns the adjacent former Atmore Hardware building on the opposite side of the restaurant. As of about 3:00 a.m. he had not entered the building. Firefighters reported smoke but no flames inside the structure.

One firefighters was taken to a local hospital for heat exhaustion; there were no other injuries reported.  All of the businesses were closed at the time of the blaze.

The cause of the fire will be determined by the Alabama State Fire Marshal’s Office.

The Parish Grill building previously housed other restaurants, including The Sweet Shop, Gerlach’s and Pintoli’s.

For an exclusive photo gallery, click here.

For exclusive raw video from the scene, click here. exclusive photos, click to enlarge.


22 Responses to “Major Fire Destroys Downtown Atmore Business, Threatens Entire City Block (With Photo Gallery And Video)”

  1. Charles on October 13th, 2014 3:42 pm

    Valiant effort by the Atmore Fire Department. I hope this is a wake up call for the community. Four on duty firefighters is not enough for ANY town. Thank God no one was killed or injured.

  2. Tressa Forte-Lundy on October 13th, 2014 12:37 am

    As Cowboy said earlier, it breaks ones heart to see this. As a former downtown business owner and friend my heart goes out to Carl and the new people at Parish Grill. Great Job–Atmore Fire Department! South Main may have lost a landmark but at least we didn’t lose the whole block!

  3. Larry T. Miniard on October 12th, 2014 10:06 pm

    In addition to it having been The Sweet Shop, Gerlach’s and Pintoli’s the upstairs portion was the main studios for radio station WATM in the early 50’s before moving to the end of Craig Street.

  4. Resident on October 12th, 2014 7:20 pm

    Thank you so much to the firemen, policemen, ambulance and other people that worked so hard. That entire block could have so easily been lost. Thank you for risking your lives to protect the rest of us. We salute you.

  5. Joe ( Cowboy) Hall on October 12th, 2014 4:35 pm

    The firemen did a great job here on this fire to keep it from spreading. Also a fire safety was built in these old buildings years ago. When the walls were built from bricks and then extended above the roofs this was a plus to stop fires from spreading across the roofs. Also the walls was 12 to 16 inches thick with brick and mortar to stop the fires. Shame more buildings are not built like this any more. This was what saved the north block across from the post office years ago when that fire destroyed the building where the walk way is now. And again thanks for all first responders that put their lives on the line for you and me. God bless each and every one of them.

  6. Glenn on October 12th, 2014 4:34 pm

    Thanks to the courage of all involved Atmore was saved from having a repeat of Frisco City. It is amazing how well the Atmore Fire Department and other agencies worked hard to keep the fire from spreading.

  7. SYLVIA WITTY on October 12th, 2014 4:10 pm


  8. christin owens on October 12th, 2014 2:03 pm

    My heart goes out to my aunt for the loss of her resturant that was a dream come true for her as well as the town of atmore for the loss of a historical building iam so thankfuk no one got hurt

  9. Molino1 on October 12th, 2014 1:41 pm

    Professional photography and coverage. Puts FOX NEWS to shame. Thanks.

  10. Theresa Lambeth on October 12th, 2014 1:28 pm

    Had lunch there with my daughter for the first time the other day. Food was great and chef was so friendly. So sorry for their loss.

  11. Jarrod on October 12th, 2014 12:00 pm

    I remember going to the sweet shop when I was a kid. Great food and great people. I remember when gerlachs moved there, but I will always think of it as the sweet shop, terrible that this happened. Hopefully they can bring it back to the way it was. Too nice of a building to be abandoned.

  12. Puddin on October 12th, 2014 11:35 am

    great pics William. Thanks for the info. Glad no one was hurt.

  13. MJS on October 12th, 2014 10:34 am

    This is Frisco City all over again

  14. rachel brown on October 12th, 2014 9:35 am

    i haven’t been to that part of town in forever but I’m also happy the strand was left unharmed

  15. William on October 12th, 2014 9:21 am

    >>>Was the stand theather mess up at all?

    We are being told it’s all fine.

  16. Adam Howell on October 12th, 2014 9:17 am

    Was the stand theather mess up at all?

  17. Lanie on October 12th, 2014 9:07 am

    Oh no! This place hasn’t been open long… I love the food there.

  18. Rene Godwin on October 12th, 2014 8:47 am

    Just heartbreaking….so grateful no one was hurt.

  19. Calla Ferguson on October 12th, 2014 8:36 am

    Excellent work by the firefighters!! It’s amazing the whole block didn’t go up in flames.
    Thank you

  20. Verlinda on October 12th, 2014 8:32 am

    What a devastating loss.

  21. Joe Hall on October 12th, 2014 7:59 am

    Leaves an empty hole in one’s heart to see this.

  22. 429SCJ on October 12th, 2014 6:20 am

    I remember when I was a boy on Horner street, what a treat it was to have lunch at the Sweetshop restaurant. Hopefully this property is not a total loss.