JONES COUNTY, MS (WDAM) - This is a news release from the Jones County Fire Council
Nestled in the middle of 300 acres of woodland in Jones County, near the banks of the Leaf River, stood a large two-story Cypress family lodge, until last night, when a fire destroyed the approximately 4,000 square feet, underroof, structure, and burned approximately 20 acres of woodland.
At 6:45 p.m., fire units from Calhoun, Soso, South Jones, Southwest Jones, and Boggy responded to the fire. Upon arrival, firefighters found the structure burned to the ground, and the nearby woods on fire.
The Cypress family lodge was owned by Ricky Blackwell, Sr. and Ricky Blackwell, Jr.
"This really stinks," exclaimed Blackwell, Jr. "As bad as this feels, now, I can't imagine what it would feel like to lose my (permanent) home. What's so bad about this, is all the memories, and things that can't be replaced, like my son's first deer."
The Blackwells said that among the several mounted game in the lodge were 12 mounted deer heads, and two Bobcats.
The lodge had been used as a gathering place and a getaway for the five Blackwell families, where they spent Christmas together, spent time at during the summer, and went hunting and fishing together.
"We would all gather together at Christmas time, especially, and spend the holidays together as a family," explained Blackwell, Jr.
In addition to the fully furnished two-story structure, the fire destroyed three 4-wheelers, two golf carts, and melted the tires on a nearby fishing boat.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation by the State Fire Marshall's Office, and Jones County Sheriff's Department Fire Investigator Sgt. Scott Gable.
Jones County Fire Coordinator Dan McKenna said that due to the fact that the Blackwells practiced good forestry management and had just burned off several acres in the spring, only the timber nearest to the lodge was damaged.
"If they had not practiced good forestry management, so much more of timber would have been damaged," said McKenna.