The Ward family lost a shop and its valuable contents Sept. 18, but is thankful volunteer firefighters prevented it from spreading to a house.
A local family known for its elaborate display of lights for Christmas is picking up the pieces after a fire destroyed a shop that contained those lights.
The Sept. 18 fire on Minnow Bucket Road in Lauderdale County was a blow, but the owners say they'll be just fine.
In the last week, the owners of J & M Construction say they have taken stock of what matters. As debris and ash sit where the shop and equipment once stood, Larry Ward said he can only think of all he still has.
"Life goes on," said Ward. "We've got work to do, a place to live. We will be fine."
Still, people across the community have reached out wanting to help a business and family who have given back to the community every holiday season by putting up a large Christmas light display. WTOK viewers have wanted to donate money to help the tradition continue. But Ward wants the focus to be on the volunteer firefighters.
"Through hard work, they spared my daughter's house and kept it wet down. There was also a propane tank that could have exploded," Ward said.
It all happened very quickly. Before the fire trucks could arrive, the shop was already fully engulfed in flames.
"When they got here, it was gone," said Ward.
But it could have been much worse, and Ward credits the men and women who worked hard to put the fire out for saving lives and property.
"We might not have that big light show (this year), but we will have it next year," said Ward. "All enjoy it. We don't want to discontinue it, so we will do it again."
So, for Ward, all is well. On this early fall day, he says he has his family and the majority of his equipment.
"We've done without before; we know how to do without," Ward said.
The fire departments that responded to the shop fire were: Lauderdale, Toomsuba, Russell, Northeast and Sam Dale.
Ward says if you want to make a donation, make it to one of those departments, instead of his family.