Iconic lounge destroyed by early morning fire
In the early hours of Friday, December 13 a fire broke out at the historic Nugget Lounge on old Franklin Highway just outside of Hearne. According to sources at the scene, the fire appeared to have started around the outside air conditioning unit.
It was reported that the fire seemed contained until the front door was opened by fire fighters and at that time, the entire building became engulfed. According to eye witness reports, the buildings structure took a little under two hours to collapse.
Fire crews from Hearne, Franklin, Calvert, and Blackjack were called to the scene at roughly 6:00 a.m. and worked more than 4 hours to extinguish the blaze that completely destroyed the more than 50 year old business.
General manager and operator for more than 16 years, Donna Hancock, worked to create a home-style atmosphere for the iconic lounge.
“My heart goes out to my employees, they all lost their jobs just two weeks before Christmas,” said Donna. “I have so many people to thank that came out to help with the fire. All the emergency personnel, my loyal customers, James Fuchs, Ladd Purl, David Shaw, and of course Krystal. I’m still a little overwhelmed so if I forget anyone please forgive me.”
For Donna, The Nugget Lounge was a labor of love. “There were times when I just wanted to throw my hands up, but this was a family and I love everyone that has supported the Nugget over these many years,” said Donna.
Donna also wished that we mention the employees who are: Janice Cotton, Misty Riser, and Bobbie McCarber.
Slyvia Montelongo and her husband are the current owners of the building and property that was the Nugget Lounge. Currently the two are discussing the possibility of a new Nugget Lounge, but no definitive plans have been made.
In the planning stages is a benefit fund-raiser to help Donna and her employees through this difficult time, but no details were ready at the time of press and with the holidays fast approaching nothing seems likely until after the new year.
Dennis Phillips / Publisher