Firefighters back at site of massive Virginia furniture plant fire

MARTINSVILLE, Va. – Crews continue to put out the fire that destroyed a former factory in Martinsville on Monday night.

Most firefighters left the site of the old American Furniture plant late Monday night. But some are still putting out hotspots and surveying the damage.

The massive fire gutted the building. What is left is now unstable. Firefighters are asking folks to stay away from the property.

Tall brick walls left standing are falling into roads.

There are still roads closed Tuesday afternoon because crews are still on the scene. Debris is covering some of those roads.

The fire marshal asks people to stay away from the scene of the fire. He warned that trespassers will be arrested.


Original story from Monday, March 3, 2014

A huge fire burned for several hours Monday night at a former furniture factory.

More than 100 firefighters battled the fire, and most of them planned to stay throughout the night.

The fire chief says his crews may never know how the fire started.

It was a fire people told WDBJ7 they could see miles away. Emily Young saw it while she was driving through Martinsville.

“We were watching it for a few minutes and a lot of people were gathering and all the police were ushering people back and said the fire was moving pretty rapidly and you need to move, you need to get out,” Young said.

Those sky-high flames quickly took over the former furniture factory and turned the entire building into a sea of fire blocks away from Uptown Martinsville.

Clarence Harris used to work there. He’s never seen any fire this size.

“You don’t see a fire this big often,” Harris said. “This is a pretty big fire. I mean it’s taking the whole plant down.”

The building has sat empty for nearly three decades and was once part of American Furniture Company. Kenneth Draper, Martinsville’s Fire chief, says another company had bought the building and was currently renovating it.

Monday night their focus was on keeping the fire contained.

“We sat up a defensive stance to try to protect the buildings that we could, went into mutual aid with the county departments,” Draper said.

The call came in around 5:30 p.m. Monday evening.

People in nearby neighborhoods voluntarily left as huge plumes of smoke swept through their streets.

Utility crews turned off power to parts of neighborhoods and cut lines to the burning factory as the flames continue to burn.

This isn’t the first time these buildings have seen a fire. A former employee tells me the plant caught fire about 25 years ago when it was still in operation.

Several streets were closed around the factory Monday night.

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