COVINGTON -- The sound of sirens woke up the Covington Square Thursday morning as Covington Fire Department firefighters raced to the scene of a fire in an office building on Clark Street adjacent to the Historic Courthouse.
The offices of Alexander, Royston, Hardman and Shinall and Carter and Associates, which are also used as the facade for The Mystic Grill in fictitious Mystic Falls during filming for "The Vampire Diaries" TV series, erupted in flames apparently after a vehicle hit a power pole behind the building. CPD Assistant Fire Chief Tony Smith said it appears the fire was electrical.
"A delivery truck was trying to deliver something at the Bell South building and pulled into the parking lot back there. Our belief, though the driver denies it, is he snatched down the wires and sent an electrical surge through the buildings and it found a weak spot."
Smith said there was a lot of smoke damage to the building and offices belonging to owners of the businesses located there -- Pete Carter and Jim Alexander -- were essentially gutted.
Smith estimated the monetary damage to be around $200,000.
"Our guys did a good job containing the fire and holding it where it was at," Smith said. "Those old buildings don't have firewalls and things like we have in modern construction, and our guys held it in check where it was not able to get into other units on the Square."
Smith added that because of the Automatic Aid agreement between CPD and Newton County Fire Service, their men were also on the scene.
"That cooperation as a whole led to our being able to hold the fire in check like we did," he said.
Traffic was cut off from the Square during morning rush hour from about 6:45 until about 11:15.
"They were able to have the Concert on the Square (at noon). We tried to have a minimum of disruption for most of the businesses in there," Smith said.
The building, part of the historic district, was originally built in 1906 as home to the Bank of Covington.