The Plow & Hearth store in the Barracks Road Shopping Center is closed indefinitely after a morning fire.
An emergency call came in around 7:30 a.m. Monday for reports of flames inside the building. Crews were on the scene four minutes later and contained the fire in 10 minutes - a quick response time that is credited with saving nearby stores.
According to the Charlottesville Police Department the "fire cause was accidental resulting from an electrical wire that was either under or near storage of Fatwood, a resin-rich wood kindling that was sold in the store".
People in the shopping center are just thankful things weren't worse.
"I'm shocked to see how extensive the damage is," said Kim McLaughlin, a shopper.
Shoppers were stunned as they watched firefighters remove barely recognizable pieces of charred debris.
"When I got here I saw that everything is charred black and the roads are closed," said McLaughlin.
"We had one employee in the store when the fire broke out, she did the right thing: call 911 and got herself out of the store," said Plow & Hearth President John Haydock. "All of our employees have been notified, we're really just taking it one minute at a time at this stage."
Owners of nearby stores are thankful the fire didn't spread very far.
"If this had happened in the middle of the night, a large number of businesses probably would have been burnt to the ground," said Monique Moshier, owner of nearby store The Happy Cook.
Her store had to close temporarily to assess water damage and bring in a cleaning crew.
"So, it was very, very quick that it engulfed Plow & Hearth obviously and that the smoke was flowing into our store," said Moshier.
While the damage at Plow & Hearth is extensive, Haydock is thankful that no one was hurt.
"I go back to the most important thing is that no one was hurt at all. I understand none of the fire department folks were hurt either and that's really all we're worried about at this very second," said Haydock.
Haydock says shoppers shouldn't expect Plow & Hearth to be open anytime soon.
Charlottesville Fire Department Press Release
This afternoon after an extensive search through the fire debris, the Fire Marshal has determined that the fire cause was accidental resulting from an electrical wire that was either under or near storage of Fatwood, a resin-rich wood kindling that was sold in the store. This Fatwood is used as a fire-starter and is extremely combustible. The fire then rapidly consumed the Fatwood, created extreme heat and large volumes of black smoke and spread through the Plow & Hearth store causing major damage to the interior of the store and to most of the merchandise. This explains the speed and intensity of the fire that literally expanded exponentially within minutes of its detection.
CFD is continuing is discussions with all of the shop owners as well as the Barracks Road Management to offer continuing assistance as needed.
Charles L. Werner, EFO/CFO, MIFireE Fire Chief
Charlottesville Fire Department Press Release
At 0731 this morning, CFD was dispatched for a reported structure fire at the Plow & Hearth store in the Barracks Road Shopping Center. CFD's Tower 10 arrived on the scene within two minutes and reported a working fire and was confronted with heavy fire and smoke conditions. The first in companies began a quick and aggressive fire attack and knocked the main body of the fire down within approximately 10 minutes. The fire's intensity destroyed most of the merchandise within the Plow & Hearth store, melted the outside lighting fixtures (exterior to the store), cracked a skylight above the entrance and extended into the heating unit on the roof burning the air filter inside. Heavy smoke conditions were found in both of the immediately adjacent stores and the odor of smoke was found as far as five stores on each side from the Plow & Hearth fire building. Firefighters maintained evacuation of the exposure stores until they could be checked for carbon monoxide and ensure safe monoxide levels.
Due to the heavy fire conditions, the response level of the fire had gone to a second alarm to ensure the necessary number of firefighters to effectively fight the fire (9 engine companies, two aerial companies, 5 chief officers, 2 fire investigators). Charlottesville Albemarle Rescue Squad was on scene with a heavy squad and a medic crew to provide Firefighter rehab and monitoring of vital signs as well as to standby for any one injured. Neighborhood Develop Services, City PD, City Gas were on scene as well. Albemarle County provided additional engines on the second alarm.
CFD units remain on the scene to continue fire investigation (fire cause is still under investigation), ventilation of all the structures. CFD officers also met with all of the store representatives to explain what had been done, what was being done and how to get additional assistance from CFD if needed. CFD personnel will stay in constant contact with the Barracks Road Management Team and the Shop Owners to assist in their recovery from this fire.
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