PHOTO: A fire broke out late yesterday at a cottage at Nippersink Lodge near DeSoto Falls. Firefighters with the Mentone Fire Department, as well as the Valley Head and Hammondsville Fire Deparments responded to the call. (Tyler Pruett | Southern Torch)
By Tyler Pruett, Managing Editor
MENTONE, Ala. — Late afternoon on Tuesday (July 25), a fire broke out at Nippersink Lodge Bed and Breakfast, near DeSoto Falls in Mentone. The Mentone, Valley Head, and Hammondsville Fire Departments all responded. Though the cause has not officially been confirmed, it's believed the fire started as a result of lighting striking a tree.
Yesterday, a sudden, strong thunderstorm struck the Lookout Mountain area of DeKalb County. Though brief, the storm brought heavy rains, strong winds, and lightning. While the storm produced minor damage in the area in the form of debris in the road, a cabin at Nippersink Lodge wasn't as lucky.
Mentone Fire Department Chief Joseph Lee said that the call went out about 5 pm, and first responders arrived on the scene within about 10 minutes. "We paged Hammondsville and Valley Head (fire departments). We call them for assistance anytime a structure fire is reported," said Lee.
At the time of the fire, the cabin was unoccupied. Co-Owner Theresa Cox was at her home in Rome, Georgia when the fire started. A neighbor notified 911, and responders were dispatched. Thanks to the quick reaction by the local fire departments, the main lodge itself, which was build in 1935, was not damaged. The fire could have quickly spread to the other cabins as well.
"We were storing things in there; furniture, things like that," said Cox. "The main lodge was built in 1935, although the cottages were built in the 50's."
Currently, Nippersink is operated as a Bed and Breakfast. The Lodge has been in Cox's family for several decades, and she recounted how special the place is to their family.
"My parents bought it in 1978, so almost 40 years (in their family). In fact, we lived there full-time; both my brother and his family, as well as myself, my husband, and our children; we raised them at Nippersink, at another cottage there," said Cox.
According to the Nippersink Website, "Nippersink Lodge was a summer home built for Eugene Taylor of Murphreesboro, Tennesse. Mrs. Taylor built the lodge in 1934 as a gathering place for her family and friends during the summer months. She named it Nippersink, a Cherokee Indian word meaning Little River."
"In October 1944, Nippersink was sold to Mrs. Annelee Tucker and Miss Elizabeth Lowe of Thomasville, Alabama. It was these two ladies who concieved the idea of converting the big ol' summer home into an inn," the website continues.
"Mrs. Tucker and Miss Lowe were school teachers who spent a number of summers as supervisors of girl's camps in the area and had been looking for property suitable for a country inn. The adventure proved successful. In 1960 Hope Cottage was built with four bedrooms, baths and living area. The two teachers retired in 1973 and Nippersink was purchased by George and Osceola Hauge. Captain Hauge (a retired naval officer) and Mrs. Hauge continued the tradition of warm, friendly hospitality set by Mrs. Tucker and Miss Lowe."
George and Osceola would later befriend Edward and Geraldine Disney of Atlanta, who purchased a cabin a short distance away from Nippersink during the 1970's. When the Hauge's retired, they convinced Edward and Geraldine to take over the business in 1979. The Disney's are the parents of Theresa Disney Cox and Co-owner Desmond Disney.
The location is also used by One World Adventure for their summer day camp, which was just concluded recently.
"They have three weeks of day camp during the summer, and they just finished. It's kids from the area, and they are just there during the day, and they leave about 3:30 pm every afternoon," explained Cox.
While the burned cottage will be missed, an alert neighbor and the quick response from the local fire departments limited the fire to one cottage lost, when the outcome could have been much worse.