MOUNTAIN BROOK, Ala. (WIAT) — A beloved business in Mountain Brook Village is in ruins after a large fire broke out overnight.
“It’s an iconic building. You drive into the city, you see Ray & Poynor. It’s a big loss,” said Mountain Brook mayor Stewart Welch.
The Ray & Poynor real estate agency building across from the Birmingham Zoo has been a part of the community for decades. A passerby first spotted the smoke and flames at around 2 a.m. Wednesday, and fire crews from Mountain Brook, Homewood and Vestavia all rushed to the scene to help, according to the Mountain Brook fire department. But the damage was already done.
“It had suffered a substantial amount of damage,” said Lee Rhudy, battalion chief and fire marshal for the City of Mountain Brook.
Investigators and officials, including ATF, are still looking into the cause. The barbershop located behind the building reportedly suffered minimal damage.
The loss of the building is also the loss of a life’s work for owner Henry Ray. However, his main concern after hearing about the fire wasn’t for the building itself but rather for his colleagues, who he said are like family.
“Nobody was hurt, and I’m so grateful,” Ray said, holding back tears.
He expects they will have to demolish the building and start over. In the meantime, Ray and his family may be devastated, but they’re not bitter. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.
“I’m overwhelmed with the people who’ve been trying to contact me. I mean, people out of the woodwork have been so kind and caring,” Ray said with emotion in his voice.
“They’re members of our community. They’re loved in our community. We will all surround them and do whatever we can to lift them up and help them,” Mayor Welch said.
Now, Ray is turning the tragedy into a way to build something even better out of the ashes.
“I’m a prayer believer, and that’s what I ask is that we endure this in the right way and put a better building on it later than what’s there now,” Ray said.