Deborah Nichols said she got a call Sunday morning informing her that there was "like a tornado of smoke" at the Dalton, Ga., building where she and her mother have their store, Marie's Dolls & Collectibles.
When Nichols arrived at the store at Peacock Alley later in the day, she found it completely burnt down. All of her stock - collectible dolls, figurines, glassware and plates - was gone.
"It was totally devastating," she said. "Most items are not replaceable. They're rare, hard-to-find items."
Marie's Dolls was one of several stores in the Peacock Alley center on Hamilton Street destroyed by the fire, said Brent Newton with the Dalton Fire Department. The fire also spread to an accounting business next door.
The Dalton Fire Department was notified by an alarm company around 6:30 a.m. Sunday, and the fire was deemed under control shortly before 11 a.m., Newton said.
Firefighters stayed overnight to control hot spots, Newton said, and the 300 block of Hamilton Street and possibly some of the surrounding streets will be closed through at least today.
No people were inside the buildings, but one firefighter cut his hand and had to have stitches. The fire's cause was unknown Sunday afternoon, Newton said.
Peacock Alley was a historic building that once housed Fraker's Hardware, said Veronica French of the Downtown Dalton Development Authority.
She said she hopes it can be rebuilt because it is relevant to the city's history.
Contact staff writer Naomi Jagoda at email@example.com or 423-757-6476.