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Brent Lyerly: 'We will be back'

By Mark Wineka
mwineka@salisburypost.com
SALISBURY — Though devastated by a noontime fire that destroyed Lyerly Funeral Home’s main building, president Brent Lyerly said the business will rebuild.
“We will be back, hopefully, with the Lord’s help,“ said Lyerly, standing on South Main Street not far from the burning funeral home.
In an interview with the Post, Lyerly said the four-alarm fire probably started from a furnace malfunction in the back lower level of the building.
“This is my life in front of me,” Lyerly said. “… I know there is a reason for this.”
Lyerly confirmed that two bodies in closed caskets remained in the building, and he hoped they could be recovered. Lyerly’s had those two funerals scheduled for Saturday.
Most of the funeral home’s vehicles were saved. Friday is a clean-up, detailing day for the vehicles, and most of them were parked outside and were easily moved away from the fire.
Lyerly said he may have lost an antique truck and one other vehicle, but he wasn’t sure. The things lost were only material things, Lyerly emphasized.
The funeral home employs 15 people. Brent Lyerly is president; his sister, Kathy L. Davis, is vice president.
Lyerly said other funeral homes in Rowan County immediately contacted him to offer assistance if their services were required.
Lyerly’s has been in business since 1957, and the building destroyed Friday dates to November 1964. It was located at 515 S. Main St.
Additions came in 1970, 1987 and 1997. The funeral home’s crematorium in the building next door was not damaged.
Because of a chilly morning, Lyerly said he had turned on the heat for the chapel before leaving for lunch.
Two staff members and a visitor were in the building when smoke started coming through the vents and a smoke alarm sounded. Vickie Abernethy called 911, and she and the two others were able to leave the building without mishap.
Lyerly’s had no funerals or visitations scheduled for today.
Lyerly said the fire seemed to mushroom quickly through the ductwork, and was fueled by all the building’s wood framing. “It just took off,” he said.
Lyerly praised the response and work of the responding fire departments. His wife, Patti, who heads Lyerly Counseling Services, also was on the scene as the couple received many hugs from friends.
A large crowd of people assembled across the street as firefighters worked to contain the flames.
The fire was visible from most areas of the downtown.
“The building is lost — we know that,” Lyerly said.
Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263.

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