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The Franklin News-Post
P. O. Box 250
310 Main Street, SW
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
Fax: 540-483-8013

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Fire destroys Ferrum business
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Staff Photo by K.A. Wagoner: Volunteers try to contain the blaze at Underwood Custom Kitchens at 8136 Franklin Street Monday morning.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

By K.A. WAGONER - Staff Writer

Thirteen workers were displaced Monday when Underwood Custom Kitchens in Ferrum was destroyed by fire.

The employees were working at 9 a.m. when they noticed black smoke billowing from the attic, according to Franklin County Fire Marshal Bennie Russell.

Plant Manager Wayne Underwood evacuated the building and called 911, Russell said. Then he attempted to control the flames with a fire extinguisher while waiting for the fire department.

When firefighters arrived minutes later, heavy black smoke and flames were pouring from the center portion of the one-story, metal structure, he added.

Volunteers had the fire under control within 45 minutes, but it took more than five hours to extinguish the blaze, Russell said.

"They had to use pike poles (8-foot fiberglass poles with steel hooks) to lift the metal roofing that had collapsed to reach the fire underneath," he explained.

Damage to the cabinet shop and its contents is estimated at $1 million, Russell said.

Jimmie and Darlene Underwood are the owners of the property at 8136 Franklin Street. The business was insured, and the Underwoods are making plans to rebuild, Russell said.

One firefighter was treated and released at Carilion Franklin Memorial Hospital for a minor arm injury, he said.

Volunteers from Ferrum, Henry, Rocky Mount, Callaway, Boones Mill and Glade Hill fire departments responded to the incident, along with Ferrum Rescue Squad, Franklin County Sheriff's Department, Ferrum College Police Department, Virginia State Police and the Virginia Department of Transportation.

East and westbound traffic on Route 40 West from Beech Mountain Road to Skillet Road was rerouted for three hours to allow the fire trucks easy access as they brought in more water, Russell said.

The cause of the fire is under investigation by the Franklin County Department of Public Safety.

"We really appreciate the support from local restaurants and convenience stores that brought us food, water and drinks during the incident," Russell said.

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