Heather Black

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Video: 23rd Anniversary of the Sullivan Fire

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STARKVILLE, Miss. (WCBI)-The holiday season allows us to reflect on many blessings throughout the years, especially the times when all seemed to be lost.   

23 years ago the owners of Sullivan’s office and supply store in Downtown Starkville were impacted by a fire that almost destroyed everything. WCBI sat down with some of the family members who believe the alarming event was a blessing in disguise.

“It’s hard to watch something you’ve worked hard at and things that you own go up in smoke,” says Steve Langston.

Little did Steve Langston know after losing so much would his business still be standing 54 years later.

Lori Chancellor, Steve’s daughter remembers December 23, 1989 when Sullivan office and supply went up in flames leaving little behind.

“The fire was on a Saturday morning. It was very close to Christmas as we are now. The building was fully engulfed before we realized there was even a fire,” says Lorin Chancellor.

Temperatures were in the lower teens with a 20 mph wind which caused the fire to spread at a fast pace. Despite the cold weather Lori says neighboring businesses stepped up to help in their time of need.

“The day of the fire lots of people from the community helped us with our front show room to help keep things from getting any worse. They helped us to get our inventory out of the building so we didn’t lose anything else. And continual effort to help us create the best looking new building that we could,” says Chancellor.

As devastating as the fire in 1989 was, it allowed the company to turn a set back into an improvement.

“We incorporated a loading area and more insulation area. Created a good space for our used furniture and a nice large show room for all of our new office furniture,” says Chancellor.

“As a business we did take something that was a tragedy and a loss and seemed very disheartening at the time and did improve it and make it into a much better thing,” says Chancellor.

The cause of the fire was never determined, but Carolyn Sullivan said she complained of a gas smell only a few days before. During the reconstruction of the business a fire door was installed to help prevent damage from possible fires in the future.