Ember from demolition started fire at former mill

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 2, 2012

By Nathan Hardin
LANDIS — Two rooms of Parkdale Mills Plant 24 on North Meriah Street were destroyed when a smoldering ember ignited Thursday morning.
The three-alarm fire brought at least 12 fire departments, as well as other emergency crews, to 414 N. Meriah St. The mill housed at least three businesses.
No one was in the building at the time, said Landis Fire Chief Reed Linn. The businesses operate during the day.
The first call came in around 4 a.m. and flames were showing through the roof at the time, Linn said.
Deborah Horne, fire investigator with the Rowan County Fire Marshal’s Office, said one of the embers from a saw blade fell onto some boards near a ventilation duct and smoldered throughout the night, finally igniting as winds blew.
But firefighters were able to contain most of the damage to that area of the building, Horne said.
A second and third alarm went out for additional personnel as the fire continued through the early morning.
Linn said units from the second alarm helped check additional areas for fire and hot spots.
The third alarm was called to provide reserve units.
“We felt like we needed more for salvage and overhaul,” Linn said, “but we haven’t used these companies yet.”
One firefighter was taken to Carolinas Medical Center-NorthEast for treatment of heat exhaustion, but is expected to make a full recovery, Linn said.
When firefighters arrived, heavy fire was showing through the roof, and they immediately began fighting the fire from the ladder trucks. A sprinkler system in the building was not working.
At one point, the fire spread to a separate warehouse, but that was quickly contained and extinguished, Linn said.
The mill housed at least three businesses, including a bicycle distribution center,  heavy equipment service center and an oyster mushroom production facility.
Some business owners were on the scene Thursday morning watching fire crews go up ladders mounted at the Old Linn Mill.
John Herron, owner of Cottonmills Mushrooms, said emergency crews let him see the factory, which he said was not affected by fire, smoke or the lack of electricity.
“I haven’t lost anything,” said Herron.
Herron’s mushroom’s need ventilation and controlled atmospheres to be marketable, he said.
“You get knocked down and you get back up. Everything’s just a setback,” he said. “If I would have lost it, it would have been fine because it would have come back.”
China Grove, Rockwell Rural, Atwell, Enochville, Kannapolis, Locke, Mt. Mitchell, South Salisbury, West Rowan,  Rockwell City and Landis Power and Rowan EMS also responded to the call.
“They did a fantastic job,” Horne said. “They saved the entire building.”
Contact reporter Nathan Hardin at nhardin@salisburypost.com or 704-787-2649.