Investigators Work To Determine Cause of Massive Fire - abc27 WHTM

Investigators Work To Determine Cause of Massive Fire


Martinsville, VA -- Investigators have been searching all day Wednesday for a cause of a massive Martinsville fire. You may remember the fire that destroyed the former American Furniture Warehouse building early last month. It took firefighters hours to control the flames. And now, it should take them weeks to find a cause.

Investigators have been on the scene daily but Wednesday, five weeks later, was the first time that investigators could go inside the former building and look for the cause. They say smoldering fires, bad weather, and an unstable building gave them a late start.

The massive fire at the former American Furniture Warehouse building left behind an even bigger puzzle for investigators to solve.


"Every little thing that's there we do consider evidence," said Ted Anderson, Martinsville Fire Marshal.

Anderson has the challenging task of searching through the debris to find clues as to what started the fire and where.

"Our goal is to get to that one point, that first spark if you will that set the blaze," said Anderson.

 Anderson and his team will piece together things like which direction the brick fell, how the steel twisted, and the colors of the evidence.

"Even how certain material is rusting versus others have not we'll use those as indicators," said Anderson.

 They also gather pictures and video of the fire for more information. But during the investigation, Anderson says they start at the most stable building. They work from least burned to most damaged. Next week they'll move on to less stable structures.

"We'll go in and start what we call our digging, actually moving debris to get to wherever the fire, burn takes us," said Anderson.

 Anderson tells us right now, they will not rule out any cause, even arson. He says they want to be unbiased as they search.

"As with any fire, we're not including or excluding anything at this point," said Anderson.

 One thing Anderson does know is that he's never seen anything quite like this.

"Property wise and size wise, yes this is one of the most significant," said Anderson.

Anderson tells us they could be searching for months to find a cause. And if they find anyone trespassing on the property, they will prosecute.
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