The fire that blazed through Court Square in downtown Murray on Wednesday morning wrecked three properties and did severe damage to several other businesses.
In the case of Wizard of Sportscards, a collectible shop located on the Square, it also caused the destruction of millions of pieces of sports history.
Earl Schroader opened Wizard of Sportscard in 1995 and says the store's offerings were unique in the western Kentucky area. The store specialized in sports cards, with millions of those cards lost to fire, smoke and water damage. Also offered in the store were other collectibles such as coins, toys and antiques.
By Friday, Schroader still had not been able to assess damages inside the building himself, but he said the loss is extreme.
"I expect 95 percent of the inventory is going to be gone," said Schroader, based on what he's seen. He went on to say that it will take time to determine the value of all the damaged inventory, but estimates it to be between $300,000 and $600,000.
Schroader first learned of the fire in Court Square from an attendant at a gas station shortly before 5 a.m. Wednesday as he was on the way to his store. As he arrived downtown, Schroader saw the flames roaring.
"Words don't describe what you feel," explained Schroader as to what he felt as he watched the fire burn. "You work all those years to build all this up, then it's gone in a flash."
Despite all the lost inventory, Schroader does not think the fire spells the end for Wizard of Sportscards. He plans to start the process of reopening the store in the coming months, even though it will likely mean starting from scratch at a new location.
"We'll be back," Schroader professed. "It'll be just like starting all over again, but we'll be back."
Contact Daniel Paxton, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8667.