• 70°

History of fires at mill site

By Deirdre Parker Smith
Salisbury Post
A 1923 story about Arey Brick and Lumber Co. described the company as “one of the leading building material firms in the country, doing a large general business in lumber, brick, millwork and every description of building material.”
N.G. Arey, a Rowan County native, bought out the plant and yards of Nussman Brick and Lumber Co. He was joined by F.N. Tyack, who was also from the area.
Here’s some of the company’s history:
– 1939: The plant was consumed by a wind-driven fire when a night watchman discovered flames around 8:45 p.m. on a mid-December night. When firefighters arrived, the entire plant was in flames. Firefighters were there until 3 a.m. and used 294,000 gallons of water. Business resumed after the fire. Damages totalled $35,000.
The fire destroyed the planing, molding and finishing machines, storage quarters, a brick office building, warehouse and dry kiln. Two firetrucks were burned by blowing flames. More than 100 kegs of nails and thousands of window glasses were destroyed and two nearby houses caught fire but were saved. Business resumed after the fire.
– 1946: The firm was sold to the Tomlinson-Gregory Lumber Co.
– 1947: It was sold to Ree V. Goodman and associates for $122,000. Goodman changed the name to Salisbury Lumber and continued to make lumber and millwork and stock building materials.
– 1952: Southern Railway donated a brass locomotive whistle to Salisbury Lumber for use at the plant to keep the sound of old steam locomotives alive.
– 1959: In an eerie similarity to Friday’s fire, a fire started in the basement and was discovered by an employee coming to work at about 6:45 a.m. Visible from miles away, with flames rising hundreds of feet, it was called the worst blaze in Salisbury’s history.
By the time firefighters brought a hose up, it was too hot for them to go into the shop building.
The city used 500,000 gallons of water by 11 that morning. The building had no sprinkler system. At least eight alarms went out at the time.
The Salisbury Post headline read “Worst Blaze in History of City Ravages Salisbury Lumber’s Plant.”
George Raynor wrote: “The stories-high flames licked through the tree big, central buildings of the company with the east of a kid attacking an ice cream cone.”
Ree Goodman told Raynor he had between $125,000 and $135,000 in insurance, although damage estimates exceeded $200,000 mark.
Concrete block walls collapsed under the heat.
Only two fire hydrants were in use, so rural departments brought tanker trucks, which they refilled at W.A. Brown Co., then on South Main Street.
– 1998: Security guards at nearby businesses reported a fire at 9:22 p.m. on Nov. 15. Firefighters were able to stop it from spreading to the production part of the plant.
A heavy downpour helped, but it still took more than 45 minutes to knock the fire down. It started in a dust-collecting bin inside a wood shavings warehouse.
The fired burned through the two-story warehouse area and collapsed the roof. Firefighters used four pumper trucks, a ladder truck and a tanker. A masonry wall helped contain the fire. There were no injuries.
Norde Wilson, company president, witnessed that fire as well as the one on Friday. He praised the fire department for “a marvelous, fantastic job” for containing the fire quickly.
The company built a reputation for fine work over the years, ranging from churches to homes to Walt Disney World in Florida. One report says they sent special work as far as Hawaii.
After the 1998 fire, Rick Fesperman, then assistant fire chief, said rainy conditions such as Friday’s can hinder firefighters, creating muddy conditions they must battle, as well. Heavy weather holds smoke close to the ground.
The plant was cleaned up quickly after the ’98 fire and work resumed.

Comments

Comments closed.

News

Stay-at-home orders cut into commercial fishermen’s catch last year

News

Two bodies found after helicopter goes down off NC coast

Nation/World

Unlikely partners: Pelosi, Cheney team up for Jan. 6 probe

Crime

Uber driver charged with sexually assaulting customer near Knightdale

Nation/World

Trump inaugural committee chair to be released on $250 million bail

Local

A year after removal, ‘Fame’ Confederate monument relocated to new home

Local

Photo gallery: ‘Fame’ relocation complete

Local

‘Fame’ Confederate monument being moved to North Lee Street cemetery today

Business

Troyer’s Country Market closing because of staff shortages, deal to sell building

Local

Builders interested in Spencer-owned residential properties

Local

Local wildlife biologist wins state award for private land conservation efforts

Local

Quotes of the week

Local

Inaugural Paint the Pavement project postponed due to paint shortages

Coronavirus

Major NC hospitals to order staff to get vaccine

High School

High school sports oversight revamp clears another state panel

Elections

McCrory wants three GOP primary debates in Senate race

College

College coaches working to learn impact of endorsement deals on recruiting

Local

City council tables issue of allowing golf carts on public roads

College

Lenoir-Rhyne women’s basketball players say activism got them kicked off team

Crime

Blotter: Man robs East Innes Circle K at gunpoint

Crime

District Attorney clears deputies in shooting investigation from February chase

Local

Salisbury Police detective receives state Gang Investigators Association Award

Education

Change in state COVID-19 guidance gives school district freedom on masking

Local

Community shows outpouring of support for young Rowan County softball player