Moody’s rises from the ashes after May 2019 fire

by Duncan Adams
Staff Writer | February 6, 2020 3:18 PM

Jay Moody washed and dried the towels dropped off by a local restaurant. The towels lingered in a dryer at Moody’s Dirty Laundry for a couple of hours.

Moody then gathered them into a laundry basket. Around 4:30 p.m. he left the basket in a back room of the building he co-owns with his wife, Kim Moody, on West Ninth Street in Libby.

The date was May 2, 2019.

The towels, used by the restaurant to clean up soybean-based cooking oil, ignited.

Roughly four hours later, the couple’s son, Colton, came to tidy up the building and was stunned to discover smoke and fire. He called 911 and then phoned his parents.

“Jay ran and jumped in the truck and made it down here in record time,” said Kim Moody during a recent interview at Moody’s Dirty Laundry & Self-Service Dog Wash.

Firefighters arrived quickly but the building sustained significant damage, much of it from smoke and water.

Two other businesses housed in the building, Pinup Girls Salon and Massage, also owned by the Moodys, and Blue Creek Trading Co., suffered damage. No one was hurt.

An investigation later determined that the towels were the source of the fire — spontaneous combustion the cause.

According to Firehouse.com, “Carbon-based animal or vegetable oils, such as linseed oil, cooking oil, cottonseed oil, corn oil, soybean oil, lard and margarine, can undergo spontaneous combustion when in contact with rags, cardboard, paper or other combustibles.”

Some seven months later, after the Moodys’ insurer covered nearly all the costs of reconstruction, Moody’s Dirty Laundry & Self-Service Dog Wash and Pinup Girls Salon and Massage reopened. A new tenant, a cellular phone provider, leases the space once occupied by Blue Creek Trading.

On Jan. 31 and Feb. 1, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day, Moody’s will host a grand re-opening, with catered food and giveaways. The couple first launched their business in December 2012.

The post-fire rebuild required bringing the building up to code. The reconstruction allowed the Moodys to make other improvements — creating more space for Jay Moody’s training courses in CPR, adding insulation, including another shower that people can rent, and creating a space where firefighters can drop off turnout gear for laundering and more.

The laundromat features new Maytag washers and dryers.

Kim Moody said the community was remarkably supportive after the fire.

She offers manicures and pedicures as a nail technician at Pinup Girls Salon and she learned quickly after the blaze that Clip Art Studio had already made space for her to work there.

Serendipitously, the Moodys won a storage shed in June from Big Sky Lumber during a drawing. The shed came in handy during reconstruction, the Moodys said.

“It arrived just at the right time,” Kim Moody said.

photo

Moody’s Dirty Laundry burned down in May 2019 after a pile of towels soaked in soybean-based cooking oil likely ignited. (Duncan Adams/The Western News)