Martinsville Bulletin, Inc.
P. O. Box 3711
204 Broad Street
Martinsville, Virginia 24115
Toll Free: 800-234-6575
Building 'total loss' after fire
Above, two buildings burned Saturday night in Fieldale. Henry County Fire Marshal Pete Draper said that because the fire still is smoldering, an investigation cannot begin until today or tomorrow. (Photo by Mike Wray)
An approximately 90-year-old building was destroyed by fire late Saturday night in Fieldale.
The blaze was reported around 10:15 p.m. Saturday and was brought under control around 2:30 a.m. Sunday, according to Brian Shuler, chief of the Fieldale Fire Department, which is next door to the burned building.
The building was a total loss, Shuler said Sunday morning as firefighters worked on hot spots in the building and mopped up the scene. Smoke still rose from one side of the building.
The cause of the fire was not known, Shuler said, adding that Fire Marshal Pete Draper would be investigating.
Sunday evening, Draper said that the fire still was smoldering and he couldn’t begin his investigation until at least today or Tuesday.
“We’re trying to get our game plan together,” Draper said.
The building actually is two structures that appear to be one. Facing Field Avenue, the left side is owned by Donald Patterson and houses Patterson Vending, a business owned by Patterson’s son, Shawn Magee, Patterson said.
The right side houses a flooring company. According to area residents at the scene Sunday, a dentist occupies an apartment on the second floor of the building, but his name was not available.
Shuler said the flooring company recently received a delivery of four pallets of 5-gallon buckets of floor finishing material, which Shuler said were heard popping as the fire burned. What appeared to be a fire ball rose from the building Saturday night, and witnesses said the backs of the buildings were fully engulfed in flames for several hours.
No one was at the Fieldale Fire Department next door when the fire broke out, but Shuler said firefighters were on the scene within 4 1/2 minutes. Responding were Fieldale, Bassett, Collinsville, Patrick Henry and Ridgeway fire departments, and the Fieldale-Collinsville and Ridgeway rescue squads, Shuler said. No one was hurt in the incident, he added.
But with so many pumpers tackling the fire, Shuler said they could not draw enough water from hydrants at the scene. They considered siphoning water from the nearby Smith River but the water level was too low, he said.
Instead, they tapped a hydrant near Ace Hardware on Fairystone Park Highway and trucked the water to the scene, Shuler said.
He added that it was the largest fire in that area since the industrial fires in Bassett in 2011.
Patterson’s building was constructed around 1920, according to Denton Boardwine, who has run the Fieldale Cafe across an alley from the fire scene since 1995. Sunday morning, he watched as Appalachian Power Co. replaced a utility pole behind the burned building and worked to restore electricity to his and other buildings nearby.
His cafe did not sustain fire or smoke damage, he said, adding it normally is closed Sunday. He planned to reopen today as usual.
“I’m impressed with AEP, the rescue squad, the fire department. They all did a good job,” Boardwine said.
That sentiment was shared by Rick Bell of Fieldale as he watched the firefighters and APCo workers Sunday morning. A retired trucker, he has lived in Fieldale since 1995.
“It’s a shame. It’s a big loss,” he added.
Terrell O’Dell, who said he has lived in Fieldale all his life, remembered the businesses that have been in the burned buildings. There was a shoe shop in the 1940s or 1950s, and Jack Lewis ran Stultz Towns Hardware, O’Dell said. He remembered going to the dentist’s office in the upstairs of the building in the 1960s, and “Doc Joyce” ran a drug store, O’Dell added.
He said the building on the right was added 15 or 20 years ago. The left side, he added, “is old Fieldale.”
Patterson said his building, which he has owned for 30 to 35 years, is insured. He said his son likely had inventory and equipment inside, and any food stored there probably would not be usable.
He added that at age 75, he is retired and probably would not rebuild, but he was not sure what his son would do. Magee could not be reached for comment.
Shuler also said there was some fire and smoke damage to the Fieldale Fire Department building, which was constructed around the same time as Patterson’s building. He added that officials will be assessing the damage there.