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Warehouse full of antiques goes up in flames in Roanoke

Fire is the third on Winston Avenue since May
Published: Sep. 29, 2020 at 10:39 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Tuesday evening, neighbors and business owners once again watched fire crews battle a blaze on Winston Avenue SW. It’s the third fire on the street since mid-May.

Fire crews responded just before 6:30 p.m., and took about half an hour to knock down the flames. No one was injured, but the damage may be significant.

“It saddens me because I put so much work into it,” said warehouse owner Mark Jones.

Jones said he’s owned the building for years, and during that time, he says he’s stuffed it to the brim with irreplaceable pieces of history.

“Some of the oil paintings and things were so beautiful,” he said. “It saddens me they may have been destroyed.”

It wasn’t just paintings. While fighting the fire, crews had to work around and through furniture and tapestries from France, England and Italy, much of it dating to the 18th and 19th centuries. Jones estimates the damage could run into the tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars, and says none of the antiques was insured.

“I’d just been here two hours earlier, working on restoring some furniture inside, and polishing some furniture, and everything was healthy looking inside. There was no indication that anything was going on,” said Jones.

Jones’s warehouse sits right next door to an AEP property where the two previous fires occurred. Those fires damaged two abandoned buildings on the property. The causes were ruled “undetermined” by Roanoke Fire/EMS.

Business owners along Winston Avenue report they frequently have to deal with break-ins and damaged property, and have reached out to the city and AEP, asking them to take action. AEP says it plans to tear the warehouses down by the end of the year.

Roanoke Fire/EMS is investigating the damage from Tuesday’s blaze. There’s no official estimate yet of the damage. They say the fire was electrical in nature.

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