Fire destroys warehouse, draws crowd

Posted: August 27, 2013

The Winchester Star

A firefighter on a Greenwood Volunteer Fire and Rescue ladder truck directs the water cannon on the flames shooting out from the roof of Moxon Timbers on Development Lane on Monday night. (Photo by Ginger Perry/The Winchester Star)
Firefighters use water cannons to battle the blaze Monday night at Moxon Timbers on Development Lane in Frederick County. (Photo by Ginger Perry/The Winchester Star)
Fire shoots out from the back of the Moxon Timbers buildingMonday.

Melissa Boughton

KERNSTOWN — Fire destroyed a large warehouse Monday night at Moxon Timbers, a wholesale lumber and flooring company based south of Va. 37 near Kernstown.

As of 11 p.m., the blaze was about 95 to 96 percent contained, but Frederick County Fire and Rescue Deputy Chief Larry Oliver had not yet declared it under control.

Billowing white smoke filled the night sky as numerous fire and rescue companies from the area continued to battle the fire.

Calls for the fully involved blaze first started coming in just before 8:15 p.m., when flames at least as high as 100 to 150 feet were visible from the roof of the warehouse, which is behind the main administrative building at 121 Development Lane.

“It was pretty impressive coming down 37,” Oliver said of the enormous flames. “It’s a significant fire.”

By 11 p.m., part of the building had collapsed and Oliver said excavation equipment was on its way. He added that the gas for the business had been shut down as a safety precaution and the power company was on scene.

Flames were still visible, though not nearly as large or high as when the blaze began.

Frederick County Fire and Rescue Chief Dennis D. Linaburg said around 9:30 p.m. that no employees were on duty when the fire was discovered.

No injuries were reported, he added.

The warehouse, a metal building open on three sides, stores wood. It also houses the kilns that are used to dry exotic wood. Linaburg said it is a total loss.

He added, however, that the main administrative building was protected.

The cause of the fire had not yet been determined, he said.

The blaze caused a spectacle as drivers pulled over on Va. 37 to see the ball of fire. Others heard about it and drove to the area just to watch.

Kate Horton, 45, of Frederick County, stood outside for about an hour and a half watching the burning warehouse.

“There was such an incredible view of it from 37 — it was surreal,” she said. “It’s been absolutely incredible.”

She added that her neighbor is an office manager for the business, and was in shock over the blaze.

“It’s just unbelievable,” Horton said. “I couldn’t imagine if this happened to my company.”

Dustin Speelman, 19, of Winchester, came from a friend’s house in Stephenson to see the fire.

The Gainesboro Volunteer Fire and Rescue Company volunteer firefighter said he didn’t have his gear with him and initially just had to observe.

“[It’s] rough,” he said early on of watching the flames. “They’re just having problems getting it out.

“I’d rather be helping than watching.”

The general manager from Corrugated Container Corp. across from Moxon Timbers came out to make sure his building still had power.

“I feel bad for them,” Doug Stemen said, shaking his head. “It’s just a shame.”

Linaburg estimated that crews would be working the fire well into today.

Just before midnight, Frederick County dispatchers said the fire was mostly contained and crews were working on overhauling the building and searching for hot spots.

— Contact Melissa Boughton at mboughton@winchesterstar.com