Worker’s body found after fire at NC QVC warehouse

Published 4:01 pm Monday, December 20, 2021

ROCKY MOUNT (AP) — Authorities have recovered the body of a man who was working at a distribution center in North Carolina for the QVC home-shopping television network when a massive fire erupted, destroying most of the facility, a local official said Sunday.

Edgecombe County Manager Eric Evans said authorities found the man’s body Sunday morning at the facility near Rocky Mount.

“Fire had not actually touched that section of the building,” where the body was discovered, Evans said. “An autopsy has not been done, but they are assuming it may have been through smoke inhalation.”

The Edgecombe County Sheriff’s Office said in a Facebook post that 21-year-old Kevon Ricks has been identified as the worker who died.

QVC confirmed the death in a statement released Sunday night. The company also said it was offering resources to the rest of its Rocky Mount employees, including shutdown pay through December 31 and a hotline for workers to get updates and leave questions.

More than 300 employees were working at the 1.2 million-square-foot facility when the fire broke out early Saturday.

On Saturday, Evans initially said all of the center’s employees appeared to be accounted for. Later, however, he said the sheriff’s office was looking for a worker who was missing after the fire.

Ricks’ relatives told WTVD-TV they hadn’t heard from him since the fire. A relative told the TV station they were informed of the body’s discovery.

Gov. Roy Cooper tweeted he was “saddened by the loss of life” during the fire.

“I’ve been in contact with local and state officials about that tragedy and taking steps to help families hurt by the loss of more than 2,000 jobs,” he posted.

Evans estimates the fire destroyed at least 70% of the facility. He said firefighters were using machines to clear debris in order to extinguish “hot spots” that were still flaring up Sunday.

Crews from nearly 45 fire departments were fighting the blaze more than 12 hours after it began.

The statement from QVC on Sunday said the company was “still working to understand the impact” on customer orders.

“Our Customer Care representatives are prepared to help as this situation continues to evolve. We appreciate our customers’ patience and their outpouring of support to our Rocky Mount team,” the statement said.

QVC. Inc. is based in West Chester, Pennsylvania, and is a wholly owned subsidiary of Qurate Retail Inc. Evans said QVC is one of Edgecombe County’s largest employers.

“It’s devastating, but everybody is concerned and everybody is pulling together for these employees and their families,” he added.