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Fire destroys part of former Lexington Home Brands plant in Lexington

By Ben Coley and Sharon Myers

The Dispatch

LEXINGTON — A massive fire Tuesday night destroyed a large part of the former Lexington Home Brands Plant No. 1 building in the city’s Depot District near uptown.

The cause of the fire wasn’t known late Tuesday, but it may have been fueled in part by chemical residue in a furniture finishing section of the mill, a city official said.

The fire started about 5:15 p.m., and the structure was still engulfed in flames several hours later. As firefighters battled the blaze, parts of the roof and walls could be heard loudly collapsing.

Lexington Police Maj. Robby Rummage said officials responded to a fire at the same building about 2 a.m. Tuesday. Rummage could not confirm Tuesday night that the two fires were related.

Rummage said the Salisbury and Thomasville fire departments assisted Lexington in battling the fire. Firefighters could be seen hosing adjacent buildings to prevent the flames from spreading to other structures, including the historic Dixie Smokestack.

The heavy flames were visible from several blocks away in Uptown Lexington.

The structure that burned, which is owned by the city of Lexington and sits behind its new amphitheater, is part of the sprawling former furniture works that is now the city’s Depot District, a target for redevelopment.

City Councilman Frank Callicutt said he was on the scene when the building caught fire early Tuesday. He said he believes Bull City Ciderworks and the site of the future Goose and the Monkey Brew House — both in parts of the former furniture mills — were not damaged.

Callicutt said he doesn’t believe anything significant was inside the building that burned.

“A big part where they’re at right now is actually where Black Dog Salvage went through,” Callicutt said. “We are hoping and are thinking that there were no people inside. I say that because we were on the scene at 1 or 2 in the morning when some of this fire actually started, and they got it out but then they thought it was going to rekindle so they stayed.

“How in the world it rekindled this fast, I cannot tell you. I know a lot of people have a love affair with the Dixie Smokestack. It’s definitely at risk at this point.”

City Manager Alan Carson said the flames broke out in the same area that caught fire earlier Tuesday. He said officials walked through the area on Tuesday.

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