The City of Lenoir Fire Department responded to a large structure fire on Virginia Street Sunday night (January 13). As of Monday morning (January 14), firefighters had the blaze under control and were monitoring the scene. The fire started Sunday afternoon at an old plant at 515 Virginia Street SW, off Morganton Boulevard in Lenoir.
The building was the former Broyhill Occasional plant. It is currently vacant, and a company was working to salvage materials and clean up the building. The Lenoir Fire Department (LFD) received the fire call at around 4:50 p.m., and 55 City of Lenoir firefighters responded. After arriving on scene, the LFD command staff asked the Lenoir Police Department to shut down Morganton Boulevard and Virginia Street to run fire hoses. Lenoir firefighters had the blaze under control and contained around 11:30 p.m. Sunday, and the majority of the crews returned to their stations around 1:30 a.m.
Lenoir Fire Chief Ken Hair said preliminary reports suggest the fire was started by workers using torches to cut steel pipe and beams out of the roof. Hair said he suspects some roof material may have caught fire and had been smoldering unnoticed when the contractors left. The majority of the fire was the roof burning, he said. The building is predominantly steel and concrete.
There were a few explosions during the incident caused by pressurized acetylene and oxygen tanks on site. The building’s roof also collapsed during the fire. Several agencies provided mutual aid during the incident. Hudson, Gamewell, and Valmead fire departments went on standby to respond to calls in Lenoir. Hudson responded to a couple calls in the Whitnel area during the fire.
Granite Falls Fire Department brought their fire drone to the scene and helped monitor the fire and locate hot spots. Gamewell Volunteer Fire Department brought an Air Truck to the scene to help refill air tanks. The City of Lenoir Public Utilities Department responded to ensure firefighters had good water flow, and the Lenoir Police Department responded to close roads and direct traffic.
Chief Hair said his crews will continue to monitor the scene while the property owner coordinates site cleanup. No one was injured during the fire.