This week, the old Fugate's Water Park was destroyed in a fire after several smaller fires days and hours prior. According to local firefighters, arson is suspected.
Ben Stidham, chief of the Grapevine-Chavies Volunteer Fire Department, said the fire department received the first call on Saturday, Sept. 19, around 9 p.m. When the volunteers responded, he said, they saw where it appeared that someone had attempted to start a fire on the front porch of the Fugate's River Boat building. The fire department extinguished the fire, he said.
At approximately 8 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 21, Stidham said, the Grapevine-Chavies Volunteer Fire Department received another call about a fire on the front porch of the Fugate's Water Park building.
“Upon the fire department's arrival, the fire was found again on the front porch and the fire was extinguished,” said Stidham.
Later that evening, he said, they received another call about heavy smoke in the area, so the fire department went and checked and found that there was another fire on the front of the building. Stidham said responders extinguished the fire again.
Stidham said that around 8:30 p.m. to 9 p.m., someone sent him a photo of the building on fire again and the fire department received another call.
“When we got there the whole building was on fire, it was fully engulfed,” said Stidham.
Several agencies responded to help the Grapevine-Chavies Volunteer Fire Department, including the Jakes Branch Volunteer Fire Department, Avawam Volunteer Fire Department, Vicco Volunteer Fire Department, Lost Creek Volunteer Fire Department, Wolfe County Volunteer Fire Department and the Lotts-Caney Volunteer Fire Department. Stidham said he is thankful for each of those departments and volunteers who helped.
“Perry County is lucky to have what they've got,” said Stidham. “It went as well as it could have possibly went.” He said everyone worked well together to contain the fire from spreading to nearby houses and structures.
The River Boat building and the water slide structure were both destroyed in the fire. The fire spread to power lines and burned fiber cables, causing TVS Cable customers in Chavies, Grapevine and the areas by the airport to be without service. Due to safety concerns, Stidham said, they had to shut down Ky. 15 while the fire was burning.
Stidham said arson is the suspected cause of the fire, but there are no suspects at this time. The property, he said, had no insurance on it and has been returned to the owners.
“We've actually turned the scene back to the property owners,” said Stidham. “There was no insurance on the building. It was actually their loss, they lost a lot.”