Fire breaks out before 'pay for spray' decision


Reporter - Jason Hibbs
Photojournalist - Mason Watkins

OBION COUNTY, Tenn.--However, a family that operates a local business and lost a million dollars in inventory and equipment say they're thankful the fire happened today and not a month from now.
It happened in Obion County, Tennessee at A & J Salvage.
On Thursday multiple fire departments had a tough time and worked very hard to fight the flames, and keep the fire from spreading to other buildings and the neighborhood.
This may be hard to believe, but if this had happened on July first, there's a good chance no one would've responded.
A million dollars in equipment and three decades of hard work.
A and J Salvage is a family company.

"My brother works here, my father, my daughter, I got 30 employees and we're all tight, were a close knit group,"  Owner Jock Johnson said.

They all huddled closely under this porch, watching as everything went up in smoke.

Firefighters from multiple departments were pelted and soaked by heavy rain, but the building was so hot and the flames so fierce, the rain didn't seem to help.

As firefighters used a tanker truck to fill up basins with water, the family tried to keep a close eye on it, but at times  they couldn't see, because of all the smoke.

A and J owner Jock Johnson caught himself asking what if this had happened a month from now.

"That flashed through my mind a while a go, when I looked out and saw all the different fire departments out here working and how well they're working together, and I can't believe that might come to an end," Johnson said.

A and J is just outside Union City limits, effective July first the Union City mayor says his department won't leave the limits, because they don't trust the county's rural fire subscription program known as pay for spray.

Friday morning county leaders will meet here in the courthouse to discuss imposing a county wide fire tax, or letting individual cities administer the subscription program.
Johnson said his million dollar loss should serve as an example and send a message the county needs to do something soon.

County commissioners will meet and possibly vote on ending pay for spray and imposing a county wide fire tax tomorrow morning at nine o'clock.  Two cities, both Obion and Union City have said if the county doesn't make major changes, they'll stop fighting county fires.
The owner also owns the building across the street, he says he'll move the operations over there temporarily, the office building was spared, A. An J. will stay in business and be open tomorrow.
Johnson told us he hopes insurance covers most of his losses, he's already spoken with his adjuster.