Locals Remember Martinsville Warehouses Destroyed By Fire - WSET.com - ABC13

Locals Remember Martinsville Warehouses Destroyed By Fire


Martinsville, VA - Police and firefighters remained at the scene of the former American Furniture Warehouse long after the initial call Monday night. They said smoldering hot spots remained on Tuesday and they expected those to stick around for days.

Looking at the pile of brick and rubble, it was easy to see how much had changed since the American Furniture Warehouse buildings opened in the early 1900s.

"Anytime we lose a part of our history it's sad for the area, it's sad for the community," said Debbie Hall, Executive Director of Martinsville-Henry County Historical Society.

Monday night's fire destroyed four of the remaining six buildings that once housed the American Furniture Company and then many other businesses.

"Furniture is our background and our history and they're gone," said Kenneth Draper, Martinsville Fire Chief.

This isn't the first tragedy for this area. For some firefighters, this was an all too familiar scene. Back in 1995, the same property had a very similar fire.

"As soon as I turned off my street and headed towards town and saw the smoke I knew it was '95 all over again," said Draper.

Martinsville Fire Chief Kenneth Draper remembered the fire nearly two decades ago that destroyed half of the warehouses. He said firefighters worked hard in both cases to set a parameter and keep the fire from spreading. Still, now only two buildings remain.

"It's a part of our history that we've lost," said Draper.

Draper said a new owner just bought the buildings last month. He said they planned to open an auction house. While he said he does not have a reason to suspect foul play, the Fire Marshal along with the insurance company will work to investigate the cause.

The Fire Marshal has warned everyone to stay away from the property and that anyone caught trespassing will be arrested.

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