Martinsville Bulletin, Inc.
P. O. Box 3711
204 Broad Street
Martinsville, Virginia 24115
Toll Free: 800-234-6575
Editorial: Different views of American fire
Sunday, March 9, 2014
Monday’s fire at the former American of Martinsville (AOM) plants meant many things to many people.
Some people said the fire destroyed an icon of this area’s manufacturing history. People who worked in those buildings when American produced furniture there lost their jobs years ago, but many still had memories of their work and their co-workers. For them, the loss was personal.
The blaze also brought back memories of the 1995 fire at a different section of the former American of Martinsville plants that had been converted into an antiques business. Many people remember that blaze, which produced smoke that could be seen as far as Rocky Mount and destroyed millions of dollars in antiques.
For others, this was a business issue. Robin Hiatt of Patrick County just bought the property a month ago and reportedly was planning to open it for retail sales. The property apparently was insured, but it still will be difficult to recover and regroup from something like this.
The fire showed the value of investing in staff, training and equipment for emergency services locally. The Martinsville Fire and EMS Department, law enforcement departments, volunteers and others showed their professionalism and dedication in battling this blaze. They prevented it from spreading to nearby buildings and homes, and there were no injuries. Considering the magnitude of the blaze, that is impressive.
And area residents helped as they could. Businesses and services brought food for those fighting the fire, and residents heeded police warnings to stay away from danger at the site. People immediately understood that this was a major event and everyone’s cooperation was needed.
We commend everyone who had a hand in fighting and controlling this blaze. While we hope we’ll never see such a fire again, it is reassuring to know that if we do, the people and resources are in place to handle it.