Madison County

Smoky, traffic-stopping fire damages Richmond boat dealership near I-75

Fire damaged Journey Auto & Boat Sales Friday in Richmond.
Fire damaged Journey Auto & Boat Sales Friday in Richmond.

The cause of a fire Friday that damaged Journey Auto & Boat Sales is under investigation by the Richmond Fire Department.

The blaze produced such heavy smoke that officials briefly closed the Robert R. Martin Bypass to traffic between Old Wilderness Trail and Four Mile Road on the city’s north side.

The fire was reported shortly before noon, Assistant Fire Chief Mark Murphy said. No one was hurt.

Russell Hutchens, 25, an employee, said he was buffing a bass boat when a blast of pressure knocked him backward to the floor.

“I looked up and the windows were busted out,” Hutchens said. “I didn’t feel heat, just pressure.”

Hutchens and his boss, Gary McCarty, then saw black smoke pouring from the back of the building. “You couldn’t see nothing,” Hutchens said.

Hutchens said he thought at least three or four boats inside the building were damaged.

A fire department investigator is working to determine the fire’s cause, Murphy said.

About 20 Richmond firefighters responded to the fire, Murphy said. Ten firefighters from the Madison County department assisted.

Journey Auto & Boat Sales incorporated in 1998 in Berea and later moved to Richmond, according to the Kentucky Secretary of State’s website.