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Martinsville Bulletin, Inc.
P. O. Box 3711
204 Broad Street
Martinsville, Virginia 24115
Toll Free: 800-234-6575

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Cause of factory fire still not known

Friday, March 7, 2014

By DEBBIE HALL - Bulletin Staff Writer

The cause of a fire that destroyed a landmark in Martinsville still is not known.

“But I’m not ruling anything out” as the cause of Monday’s blaze at the former American of Martinsville plant, city Fire Marshal Ted Anderson said Thursday.

The structure still is not safe enough for fire investigators to enter, he said. “We are coordinating with the insurance company to make the scene safe enough.”

In some instances, insurance companies will provide heavy equipment to help stabilize a building so the origin and cause of a fire can be determined, according to Anderson.

He added that he does not yet know what type or how much help the company will provide. But, he said, investigators are studying videos and photos of the fire so they will be ready to act when the needed help arrives.

Of particular interest are photos or videos that show the early phases of the blaze, “anything in the time of around 5:30 (p.m.), give or take 15 minutes,” he said.

The first call reporting the blaze was received at 5:29 p.m., he added.

Fire investigators hope the pictures and/or videos will help them determine “a focus area to investigate, to try to narrow down to a point of origin. Our goal is to get to a point of origin,” he said.

When that is found, investigators then can sift through the ash and rubble in that area to find the cause of the blaze.

He continues to ask for help from anyone who may have taken photos or videos of the fire at that time. Anyone with information is asked to contact him.

“We are still basically in an interview mode. The public is responding well as far as pictures, videos and providing information, and I do want them to know we appreciate that. We also thank them for their outpouring of food” for firefighters at the scene on Monday, Anderson said.

“Hopefully tomorrow we will have a little bit more idea as to the resources the insurance company is going to provide for us,” he said.

Anderson said he also hoped any precipitation Thursday or today may help extinguish the remaining hot spots at the site between Broad and Aaron streets in Martinsville.

“Also, we want to stress that this is an unstable and unsafe scene,” and anyone venturing inside the crime scene-taped area will be charged, Anderson said.

The early damage estimate to the structure on Aaron Street is $516,000, he has said.

To contact Anderson, email, or call 403-5202.


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