A fire sparked by a dryer Wednesday morning left as many as three families homeless and destroyed two buildings in downtown Seymour.
The fire started in the second-floor residence of Alan and Dana Killey at 110 W. Second St.
“Zack came running down saying there was a fire, and I went upstairs and saw the dryer was on fire,” Killey said of his son, Zack Killey.
Alan was downstairs at Hair Force Beauty Academy, a business he has operated at that location since 1982 or 1983, along with about 15 other people, including his wife, instructors, students and customers.
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Alan said he tried to beat the fire out and thought it was contained to the room at the back of the residence.
He opened the door to a second room.
“Flames were shooting out about 5 feet,” he said.
That was at about 11:15 a.m. Wednesday. The fire eventually consumed an adjacent business, Isabel’s Estetica, at 108 E. Second St., and the top portion of the front of that building later collapsed with the falling bricks destroying two vehicles.
Seymour firefighters responded to the scene along with police, who closed off Second Street between Chestnut Street and Indianapolis Avenue.
Two hours after the fire was reported, Fire Chief Brad Lucas said just getting a handle on it and making sure there was plenty of water were the biggest challenges.
Lucas called in off-duty firefighters to assist and used eight or nine of them to man the city’s fire stations. North Vernon Fire Department sent an aerial truck and Columbus Fire Department sent a truck to help.
By 3 p.m., the fire was extinguished for the most part and the firefighters took a break to get a drink and some food provided by The Salvation Army.
Zack Killey said he started to walk upstairs to the residence when he noticed a light that always was on was off.
“I thought that was weird, and then I smelled smoke,” he said.
He said he peeked in the kitchen, and his sister, Allison Killey, came out of the hallway.
“I don’t know what woke me up, and I realized my fan was off, and I never sleep with my fan off,” Allison said.
At that point, Zack headed downstairs to tell everyone to get out, and he called 911.
While talking with 911, Zack helped clear the building of the 15 to 20 or so students and customers.
They included instructor Micah Joray, who has been with the Killeys for six years.
“I didn’t believe it. Zack came down the stairs and said the building is on fire,” she said. “I was just finishing up a haircut. I just stood there.”
Zach said ironically, he and his band, These Fine Gentlemen, performed a benefit for a family who lost their home to a fire a couple of weeks ago.
“Now, we’re switching roles,” he said.
The Killeys moved above the business six or seven years ago, but the beauty school opened there in the early 1980s, Alan said.
He said he found it hard to believe that something that seem so small could turn into something so bad.
“I think I could have put it out with two or three fire extinguishers,” Alan said. He said he had some in the residence but just not near enough to grab at the time.
He said it’s way too early for him to think about his future plans as far as the school is concerned.
Dana said one of Alan’s brothers had agreed to put the family up.
“That’s the good thing, both of us have lots of family,” she said.