Fire claims Arkansas movie memorabilia

CARAWAY, Ark. (AP) – Fire claimed memorabilia from the movies Walk the Line and A Painted House when two buildings in Caraway burned.

The fire began in a tin structure in which items from the movies were stored. The building, owned by Melton Emery, had items he had collected over the last 15 to 20 years. The fire also consumed a second structure.

“He kept some old-time memorabilia there,” Caraway Fire Capt. Don Fletcher told The Jonesboro Sun. “There were some movie sets and old guitars from Walk the Line, plus some tractors.”

Fletcher said the fire, which started when winds caused electric lines to arc, gutted the buildings.

Part of the 2005 movie Walk the Line about Johnny Cash was filmed in Dyess, where Cash grew up. A Painted House, from 2003, was filmed in nearby Lepanto. The movie is from the John Grisham book of the same name and is based on the writer’s early youth in northeast Arkansas.

Merret Emery, Emery’s son, said his father began collecting memorabilia as long as two decades ago. The collection increased when production for A Painted House began in 2002.

“He always collected farm equipment. When they decided to do A Painted House they searched for local places so that they don’t have to carry things a long way,” Merret Emery said. “The people in Lepanto told them to go see Melton.”

The relationship with production companies continued when scenes from Walk the Line were being filmed, Merret Emery said.

A Walk the Line prop man came to his shop and said, ‘Do you have a copy of the album, Walk the Line?,”’ Merret Emery said. “He went and pulled the album out of a box in the back.”

The album was kept on the set during the entire filming, Merret Emery said.

Melton Emery also provided the mule, which was used in the opening scene of the film.

Father and son watched as the fire destroyed the two buildings. Merret Emery said his father’s reaction was subdued.

“He would think about it, and it brought back memories,” Merret Emery said. “He said it could have been one of our houses that burned. He then said it was not anything important.”

Firefighters were called just before 3 p.m. Tuesday to the buildings at the intersection of Arkansas 135 and Arkansas 138.

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Information from: The Jonesboro Sun, http://www.jonesborosun.com

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