GOODY — Fire officials said a controlled burn that had been started earlier in the day and which was sustained throughout Friday evening by a contractor hired to work on the Loftis mansion at Goody is believed to have been the catalyst of a massive fire that destroyed the longstanding local landmark.
According to Belfry Volunteer Fire Department Assistant Chief Mike Brown, the contractor had initiated the controlled fire earlier in the day to burn material from the home that couldn’t be salvaged.
Brown said a motorist driving on U.S. 119 who was unaware of the controlled burn saw the afternoon activity and called 911 after becoming alarmed that a fire had broken out somewhere in the home.
“This individual saw the smoke and thought that the house might have been on fire at that time,” Brown said.
Brown said a Belfry unit was dispatched to the site but subsequently left after being informed by workers that it was a controlled fire and that it was being closely monitored and maintained.
However, Brown added, later in the evening the fire managed to escape from its confinement area and began spreading up the hillside behind the mansion.
“The workers themselves called around 8 p.m. and said it was beginning to go up the hillside,” Brown said. “The next thing they saw was the house itself on fire.”
Brown said the structure was engulfed in flames by the time firefighters from Belfry, Turkey Creek and Upper Pond arrived on the scene a few minutes later.
Belfry Volunteer Fire Chief Nee Jackson, who was out of town but was kept apprised of the fire, said at this point the decision was made to keep the blaze under control and protect nearby McDonald’s, as well as prevent it from spreading further up the hillside.
“Our guys knew almost instantly about the only option they had at that point was to fight the fire defensively and keep it contained to the house,” Jackson said Saturday morning. “Due to the size of the fire and how much headway it had gotten, we decided that fighting it offensively in an attempt to save an unoccupied structure was not worth the risk of our guys getting hurt.”
Jackson said the home’s owner, local developer Keith Tincher who Brown said was also believed to be out of town at the time, bought the mansion earlier this year and originally had planned to refurbish and possibly turn it into a bed and breakfast.
“He told me that once they got into it, though, that the house had suffered really bad termite damage as well as had black mold issues,” Jackson said. “So I believe he decided to salvage what he could and then tear down the rest of it.”
Although the Kentucky Division of Forestry was contacted, Brown said the hillside fire fortunately reversed direction and eventually burned itself out behind a retaining wall at the rear of the home.
There were no injuries, Brown said.
The mansion was built by coal operator Carl Loftis in the late 1970s and early 1980s at the time that he and his brother and fellow coal operator Wallace Loftis were developing the South Side Mall.
Following the deaths of Carl and his wife, the house remained unoccupied throughout the subsequent years and ultimately fell into disrepair.