Movie relics lost in storage facility fire

Movie relics lost in storage facility fire

HENRY COUNTY, Ga.,None — Henry County firefighters spent hours battling a fire that destroyed a storage facility containing some priceless pieces of Atlanta film history, one renter said.

Clayton County's Tara Museum confirms it stores memorabilia from the 1939 Atlanta premier of "Gone with the Wind" in one of the units affected by the Thursday night blaze.

A museum spokesperson said among the items stored in that unit were the large oval paintings of Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh seen hanging prominently from the front of the Loew's Grand Theatre during the movie premier.  But other items, such as priceless signed first editions of the movie script are safe in the museum, said Channel 2's Richard Elliot.

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It took several firefighters hours to extinguish the blaze at the Hudson Bridge Road storage unit.  Fire officials said the incident, which is of suspicious origin, occurred Thursday, 10 p.m. When firefighters arrived, flames were shooting through the roof of the Stockbridge facility.

Fire Chief William Lacy said one man was burned and is now at Grady Hospital's burn unit.  Lacy said his investigators have not been able to speak with him to find out what part, if any, he played in the fire.

Meanwhile, Loretta Clark recalled her loss, saying she stored much of the items she gathered from 28 years in the U.S. Army in one of the downstairs units.

"What can you say?" Clark said.  "It is what it is.  All you can do is pray and see what happens after it's all done."

Late Friday afternoon, firefighters brought in a backhoe to rip open every top floor storage unit so their water cannons to reach the remaining smoldering flames.

"It breaks your heart to see this sort of loss," said Clark.  "But we'll try our best to minimize that loss as much as we can."

Investigators won't know the full extent of the damage until they are able to get inside and inspect the unit, said Elliot.

"It definitely made it more dangerous due to the fact that we don't know what's in the storage facility," Henry County Fire Capt. Sabrina Puckett said in an earlier interview.

At first, crews fought the fire from the outside as smoke poured out of the building. Once the fire was out, they went inside.

"There's several different compartments within the storage unit, which involves several different fires, obviously," Puckett said.

Smoke was billowing from the building while Channel 2's Darryn Moore reported from the scene during the pre-dawn hours.

Though firefighters extinguished the fire, all 400 units were damaged, including the $300,000 worth of Gone With the Wind movie memorabilia.

"All of these units were either destroyed by smoke, water or fire," Lacy told Channel 2's Amanda Cook, who also covered the blaze.

A man at the scene told Cook his 62-year-old daughter recently moved to the area and was using a unit to store items while she searched for a home.

"We just need the prayers right now. She's lost everything," Ray Hancock said.