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Investigation of blaze at former American building is ongoing; cause unknown
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Local fire officials and fire investigators with Liberty Mutual Insurance gathered Wednesday to walk through a former American of Martinsville building that was partially destroyed by fire March 3. Martinsville Fire Marshal Ted Anderson said the probe is ongoing and the cause of the fire still is not known. (Bulletin photo by Mike Wray)
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Thursday, April 24, 2014

By BEN R. WILLIAMS - Bulletin Staff Writer

The investigation into a fire that destroyed the former American of Martinsville plant in March is continuing, but the cause has not yet been determined, according to Martinsville Fire Marshal Ted Anderson.

Demolition contractors employed by Liberty Mutual Insurance have torn down several of the dangerously unstable walls of the factory, Anderson said, which allowed two Liberty Mutual fire investigators and a crew of roughly 15 city and county firefighters to enter the remains of the plant Wednesday.

The large crew was necessary, Anderson said, because loose bricks and rubble littering the ground needed to be moved by hand to continue the search for clues to the origin and cause of the March 3 blaze.

At this point, Anderson said, “it’s still too early to tell” what caused the fire.

“I don’t like to make a decision until we’ve put all the facts and all the pieces together,” he said. “We’re going to do our job and look at everything we possibly can. We’re not leaving any stone unturned.”

On Wednesday, Anderson said, the crew was able to inspect all of the buildings that made up the sprawling plant, although investigators spent the majority of their time in the plant’s upper building.

Today, he said, they will return to the plant to inspect and measure some of its steel framework. Within the next couple of weeks, he said, investigators again will return to the plant to continue the probe with the aid of several engineers.

Early in the investigation, Anderson noted, he reached out to the public to ask for photographs or video of the fire, particularly the early stages of the blaze.

“We did get good feedback,” he said. “I thank the public for their response.”

However, he said, if anyone else has footage of the fire or drawings or blueprints of the plant, he still encourages them to contact his office, as different angles and time frames could aid the investigation.

Anderson’s direct phone number is 403-5202; if he is not in the office, he asks that the caller leave a voicemail. Materials also may be dropped off at the fire department at 65 West Church St.

 

 
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