LEIGHTON — Moments after Ivanell Weaver heard the news that her business, The Flower Box, was on fire, she said the only thing on her mind was her customers.
"I had six arrangements to do for funerals that had to be done and delivered Friday," Weaver said Friday afternoon. "You take care of your customers first."
So on Friday morning, with her business in rubble, Weaver, 74, set out to get the items she needed to make those six arrangements. She had them delivered before 11 a.m., in time for the funerals.
For nearly 28 years, Weaver has operated The Flower Box at 8800 Main St. in downtown Leighton.
The building, according to town officials, is one of the oldest in town.
"It's probably 100 years old or older," Leighton Mayor John Landers said.
Landers said he was not surprised that the first thing Weaver worried about was her customers.
"When I heard about the fire, I wondered if she had some to do and what would she do," he said. "It doesn't surprise me that she got out and got what she needed to make the arrangements. That's the type of person she is."
The fire was reported at 10:37 p.m. Thursday.
"It was fully involved and really going when we got here," Leighton Volunteer Fire Chief James Cheatham said. "It was an old building and then all that floral materials, it really went up."
Cheatham said the fire started in the back of the building.
The cause of the fire has not been determined.
"The walls were insulated with sawdust," Weaver said. "So, when the fire hit that, it just went up fast,"
Cheatham said firefighters worked until after 3 a.m. Friday to extinguish the blaze. Then they had to go back at 5:18 a.m. when it rekindled and stayed until after 9 a.m.
Firefighters from three area departments worked throughout the night and into the morning putting out the fire.
"I just thank each one for doing what they could," Weaver said.
Her grandson, Dustin Fisher, and his wife Whitney went to the business Thursday night after they heard about the fire.
"We got there around midnight and the building was just engulfed," Whitney Fisher said. "It was really a helpless feeling seeing it go up like that."
She said the building and the business hold a lot of memories for her and the Weaver family.
"My husband spent his childhood there," she said. "And every year the grandchildren would help make the (floral) arrangements, deliveries and orders on Mother's Day and Valentine's Day."
Weaver said she couldn't go to the store Thursday night. She managed to go Friday and see what was left of the business.
"It was tough to look at," Weaver said. "It's hard to believe what happened — all my work, it's gone."
Fisher said it's sad to think of all the time and effort Weaver spent in the business.
"She is a master at making arrangements," Fisher said. "If it's a funeral, a prom, a wedding or some kind of event with flowers, in Leighton, she is usually the one who made them."
Landers said the business was an asset to the town.
"(It) produced a good bit of sales tax revenue for the town," he said. "But more importantly, she is a neat lady and I hate this for her."
Weaver said she started out making floral arrangements in her garage before she bought The Flower Box. She admits she may be back in the garage for a while.
"But I am going to keep my business somewhere in Leighton," she said.
A special fund has been set up at Bank Independent for donations to help offset expenses from the fire.
Tom Smith can be reached at 256-740-5757 or tom.smith@TimesDaily.com.