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Downtown McKenzie Building Destroyed in Fire

By Ben Rainwater
By brainwater@wbbjtv.com

MCKENZIE, Tenn. - A McKenzie couple is heartbroken after a massive fire swallowed the building they were remodeling, leaving only ashes and charred debris.

"All my guys pulled me out of it," said owner Greg Browning.

"They said I was just dazed. I couldn't believe it."

Browning had been working on the building for six months. And around 9:30 a.m. Thursday, he said the wood heater caught fire.

Browning and his three workers tried to get tools out, but had to call 911 as the fire overtook the structure.

"It was fully engulfed by the time they got here," said Browning.

"Black smoke was already starting to roll."

The owner called it a labor of love, gone up in smoke, as he was working to move his wife's flower shop from down the street to this location.

"I was trying to move her to it," said Browning.

"I bought the thing and was rebuilding it, just so she wouldn't have to pay rent anymore."

Browning said he spent four to five hours after work each day working on the building.

The lost time hurts, but there is also a major dent in his wallet. The property was uninsured, as he was waiting until it was completely done.

"Without counting my personal time spent on it, I lost probably 30 to $40,000," said Browning.

He was hoping to move his wife's shop, Lulu Belles, in by June 1. But now, he does not know what to do.

"I'm going to clean the lot and have time to think I guess," said Browning.

"At this point I don't know what to do."

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