published Saturday, October 15th, 2011

Peacock Alley fire investigation in Dalton delayed

Dalton, Ga., Fire Chief Bruce Satterfield talks on October 14, 2011, about the fire that destroyed several business in Peacock Alley.
Dalton, Ga., Fire Chief Bruce Satterfield talks on October 14, 2011, about the fire that destroyed several business in Peacock Alley.
Photo by Angela Lewis.
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    Several Peacock Alley businesses on Hamilton Street in Dalton burned in an early morning fire Sunday.
    Photo by Angela Lewis /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

DALTON, Ga. -- Investigators plan to conduct a full-scale investigation into the Peacock Alley downtown fire sometime next week, officials said Friday.

"We are waiting until the insurance company notifies all the tenants and sets a time for private investigators to be here," Dalton fire Chief Bruce Satterfield said. "It is still our scene and we will conduct the investigation, but we've agreed to wait."

An early Sunday morning fire destroyed the historic building known as Peacock Alley Antique Gallery and Specialty Shops on Hamilton Street. Several adjacent businesses either were destroyed or had extensive damage.

Satterfield estimated damage is "well in excess of $1 million," one reason the investigation will take some time.

Fire department officials have not said what they believe caused the fire.

Investigators have worked this week to obtain photographs and sketches of the scene's layout and the location of furniture, appliances and electrical outlets. Satterfield and investigators were on the scene Friday morning.

Both lanes of Hamilton Street have been reopened, but the scene remains taped off. A green screen also has been set up around the buildings.

A construction crew has stabilized a brick wall at the back of the building to ensure the safety of investigators.

"We haven't been sitting around twiddling our thumbs," Satterfield said.

Satterfield said the insurance company for the main building has sent letters to all the shop owners about the best day to do an investigation and is waiting to hear from them.

Any private investigators for the various insurance agencies will be allowed to be present for "the dig," when investigators remove debris and begin a full-scale investigation, he said.

That tentatively is scheduled to happen Thursday, Satterfield said, and state fire marshals will be involved in the investigation.

Peacock Alley's owner, John Davis, said having so many owners, the city and various insurance agencies involved means it will take time to clean up and rebuild.

"There are so many people with memories of this place," he said. "And we will rebuild. Right now we aren't sure what that will look like, but we will be back."

about Mariann Martin...

Mariann Martin covers healthcare in Chattanooga and the surrounding region. She joined the Times Free Press in February 2011, after covering crime and courts for the Jackson (Tenn.) Sun for two years. Mariann was born in Indiana, but grew up in Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Belize. She graduated from Union University in 2005 with degrees in English and history and has master’s degrees in international relations and history from the University of Toronto. While attending Union, ...

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