Smoke billowed from the second-floor window as fire and emergency crews converged on the scene at the South Side of the court square before dawn on Monday causing the courthouse to close for most of the morning. Once the smoke cleared, the historic building where The Berry Clinic is housed was drastically destroyed and adjoining buildings suffered massive smoke damage, according to Camden Fire Chief Jerry Pierce.
As more than 20 firefighters battled the immense blaze, water became an issue at the downtown area fire hydrants. Pumper trucks had to transport water from Hwy. 641 locations.
Pierce confirmed that nobody was injured, but fatigued firefighters from multiple agencies battled the fire through the entire morning, spraying water until nearly noon. Local restaurants, DayMaker Café’ and McDonald’s graciously donated biscuits, coffee and drinks to the exhausted firefighters and emergency personnel.
By noon the firetrucks returned to their stations. Pierce said that two arson investigators arrived on the scene and by early afternoon decided the job was too prodigious and returned to Nashville.
In addition to Camden Fire Department, other fire agencies on the scene and assisting were Eva, Sandy River, Big Sandy, Holladay-McIllwain, and Chalk Level Fire Departments. Camden Police Department re-routed traffic. Emergency Management Director Richard Kee was also on the scene. He wore dual-hats, that as the director and also as a volunteer firefighter.
Pierce was pleased with all of the fire departments response time and ability to work together. “Every last firefighter on the scene did a tremendous job,” the Fire Chief said. “It was really incredible how each knew the job before them and performed it flawlessly. I am grateful that none of our guys were injured.”
Hours after the fire, Ken Berry, MD, addressed his patients via Facebook with, “We really wanted to do a (Facebook) LIVE for you all tonight but we really need some time to process all that has happened today. Thank you all for the awesome outpouring of love you have shown us and the staff of The Berry Clinic today. We are looking forward to rebuilding bigger and better than ever as soon as possible.”
The Berry Clinic Facebook Page said the clinic will be closed until further notice.
According to Pierce, the fire remains under investigation. Additional investigators and the arson truck revisited the burnt structure on Wednesday. This is standard procedure for fires with insurance claims of this magnitude.