Morning fire strikes Dunleith

Published 9:40 am Friday, May 25, 2007

A fire Thursday morning in an outbuilding at historic Dunleith Plantation caused extensive damage.

The fire ravaged the nearly 150-year-old building, which was being used for offices and a gift shop, leaving bricks scorched and portions of the roof caved in.

The Natchez Fire Department responded to the call at 3:30 Thursday morning. Firefighters remained on the scene clearing debris until after 10 a.m.

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The cause of the fire is under investigation.

The upstairs was a complete loss, but the downstairs will be somewhat salvageable despite fire and water damage, General Manager John Holyoak said.

Historically the building was used to house poultry, he said.

Executive Director of the Historic Natchez Foundation Ron Miller said the key to saving a historic building once it has been damaged is to repair the roof as quickly as possible.

“Once it loses its roof, it can fall apart pretty quickly,” he said.

The last historic building in Natchez to burn — Arlington — was about five years ago, Miller said.

“A new roof was put on it, but the inside was already damaged, and it continues to deteriorate,” he said.

Dunleith has no plans to allow the building to suffer any more damage, Holyoak said.

“We’re getting back to business and will start rebuilding immediately,” he said. “We won’t miss a beat.”

A mobile trailer is already being arranged to set up offices in, Holyoak said.