Conley Bottom Resort engulfed in flames
A fire caused heavy damage early Monday at Conley Bottom Resort on Lake Cumberland in Wayne County, but the marina will be open for the upcoming Memorial Day weekend, according to the owner.
The fire happened just after 2 a.m. Monday at the resort, said owner Fred Piercy. A security guard on duty noticed the fire while making his rounds and alerted Piercy. The cause of the fire remained unknown Monday.
Piercy and another man, Jerry Corder, got on a fire boat and sprayed down two slips near the fire, preventing them from catching fire, Piercy said.
There were houseboats and rental boats moored in those slips.
“Our fire boat really saved us,” Piercy said.
Piercy said the main dock was engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived. Firefighters who drew water from the lake using portable pumps helped keep the fire from spreading, Piercy said.
The fire destroyed the marina restaurant, called the Lighthouse Cafe; the store; the office; and a shop area used for houseboat repairs, Piercy said.
The marina had stocked the store and was ready for the busy Memorial Day weekend, traditionally the start of the summer boating season.
“We worked so hard to get geared up for this weekend,” said Patsy Hutchison, who managed the restaurant.
Some social media users documented the scary scene with videos showing heavy flames at the marina.
“It’s gone,” said Brian Phelps, whose video was shared more than 500 times on Facebook.
The fire destroyed one houseboat and one pontoon boat, which are both owned by Houseboats Buy Terry, Piercy said.
The flames and heat also damaged a smaller fishing boat, according to Piercy.
However, Conley Bottom Resort said on Facebook that it did not lose any private boats or rental boats in the fire, and Piercy said workers saved the gas dock, so there will be fuel available.
Hutchison said she had worked at the restaurant for 20 years. Without it this summer, she said, “I may have to set me up a hot dog stand.”
At midday Monday, several hours after the fire was first spotted, acrid smoke still rose from the rubble and marina employees were still using the fire boat to spray down hot spots.
Boat owners came throughout the day to commiserate with employees at Conley Bottom. One woman, wearing a T-shirt that said “Lake Cumberland is my happy place,” wept as she looked at the damage.
The marina is a community, said Michele Bing, who lives in Richmond and has a boat at the marina.
“It makes me sick,” she said. “I feel helpless.”
Piercy said he was considering putting a pre-fabricated building at the marina to serve as an office, but it will take time to rebuild the other facilities.
“We’ll just have to limp along this year,” he added.
However, he stressed the marina will be open, and vowed to rebuild.
“We’ll come back,” he said.
Conley Bottom has been open since the early 1950s. It offers houseboat rentals and waterfront lodging and has a campground.