Clanton family seeks help after fire claims home and business

Published 1:22 pm Thursday, January 16, 2014

When Eddie and Mary Mims lost their home and family business in a fire the morning of Jan. 7, friends and family stepped up to help.

The couple had no homeowners insurance and lost both their home and business that operated in Chilton County for more than 40 years.

“The morning of the fire my parents were both at home,” said daughter Angie Handley. “The fire started in the shop next door to the house and it was about 37 minutes until the house caught on fire so they had enough time to get out.”

The blaze started at Mims Variety Store where acetylene and oxygen containers used for welding were stored. As the fire progressed, the containers exploded, with at least one shooting into the air higher than surrounding trees.

Once word spread about the fire, Handley said individuals from the community started asking how they could help.

“The response from the community has been a blessing,” Handley said. “My parents have had a lot of business from this community so it has meant a lot to see different people asking if there is something they can do.”

Family members set up a donation fund at Peoples Southern Bank in Clanton for anyone wishing to donate.

Eddie, 86, retired 20 years ago from a junkyard and mechanic business and later turned his shop into a variety store carrying numerous supplies for mechanics and farmers.

Handley said the business joined the house by one room and because of that the couple was unable to hold a homeowners insurance policy.

Handley said the current goal is to replace inventory in her father’s store so he can re-open the business.

“The store had a little bit of everything,” Handley said. “From car parts to welding, they did everything. We just need to help to start the business back up so his customers will not have to travel out of town for their supplies.”

Although the couple has been unable to salvage anything from the business, Handley said the family has found a few sentimental items from the house.

“We have walked through the remains of what was the house and we found items like my grandfather’s pocket watch, my grandparent’s wedding bands and my mother had eight generations of sewing thimbles we were able to recover,” Handley said. “We were able to pinpoint the location that used to be the bedroom and we knew she kept the thimbles inside a drawer in her dresser so we had someone loan us a metal detector and we were able to recover the thimbles.”

Handley said both Eddie and Mary are currently staying with her sister.

For anyone wishing to donate to the fund at Peoples Southern Bank, label all funds as a donation with the name Mary F. Mims help fund.

Handley said if individuals are unable to donate monetary funds, any supplies would be used to help reopen the store.

“Anyone willing to volunteer their time in helping re-build the site would be wonderful,” Handley said.

Peoples Southern Bank is located at 620 Second Ave. N. in Clanton.

For more information about volunteering time, contact Handley at 389-5195 or Kim or Mitch Moore at 755-7264 or 755-8940.