Suspicious fire in old Keller plant - Star Exponent: Local News

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Saturday, October 25, 2014

Suspicious fire in old Keller plant

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Posted: Friday, April 18, 2014 12:15 am | Updated: 12:21 pm, Tue Apr 22, 2014.

 This story has been edited from its original version.


  A local fire official characterized an early morning blaze  as suspicious Thursday after a fire caused an estimated  $600,000 in damages to a former furniture plant on Route 3 in the town of Culpeper.

  Emergency responders, led by Culpeper County Volunteer Fire Department Co. 1, responded to the old Keller Manufacturing facility at 601 Germanna Highway around 2:58 a.m. Upon arrival, flames and smoke were seen coming from the roof and front entrance. Crews broke through the roof to provide ventilation. No injuries were reported.

  "A quick and coordinated attack succeeded in knocking down most hot spots, and the installed sprinkler system prevented the fire from reaching most of the lumber stock," according to the Co. 1 Facebook page.

  Junior Perryman, first assistant chief at Co. 1, said the fire started in a vacant office area just off the front entrance in the approximate 174,000-square-foot building. The fire quickly spread through the walls and into an area where 16 large bundles of lumber were being stored, he said.

  The wood burned and smoldered with crews getting the fire under control by about 4:40 a.m. Thursday. Perryman said no "ignition source" was located in the area where the fire started, causing him to describe it as "a bit suspicious."

  "We will ask for investigation by an arson investigator," he said.

  Perryman estimated about $300,000 in damages to the building and another $300,000 to its contents, including boxing containers stored in the facility by a vendor providing the supplies to nearby Merillat Cabinets, also known as Masco Cabinets. It was a Masco employee, in fact, who discovered the fire, he said.

  According to county tax records, the former Structural Systems, a Maryland-based manufacturer of roof trusses, owns the building where the fire occurred. The company purchased the structure after Keller closed in 2002, and used it for manufacturing until the housing slump. Located along the railway, the facility now serves as a leased warehouse.

  Perryman said no one was in the building when they got there. Crews that responded to Thursday's blaze, in addition to Co. 1, included companies 2, 8, 9, 10, 16, Remington 2, Amissville and career staff and medics.

  A welding torch fire in the same building three years ago caused about $70,000 in damage. The structure was built in 1966 as part of the Keller enterprise.




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