Fire Burns Through Attic of N.C. Garden Center

Two other fires around the same time and less than 20 minutes from the garden center fire are suspicious, officials said.


June 17--The Arcadia Nursery and Garden Center on N.C. Highway 150 North near Community Road sustained heavy damage. Firefighters with the A-RC-H Fire Department responded to the fire at 1:14 a.m. A-RC-H Chief Neil Hege reported a passerby alerted Davidson County 911 of the fire.

"When we arrived, we found flames coming through the roof of the north side of the structure," he said.

Two other fires less than 20 minutes from the garden center fire are suspicious, Hege said. The chief said his firefighters responded to a dumpster fire at 12:56 a.m. at the Mrs. Hanes Moravian Cookie Bakery at Friedberg and Frye Bridge roads, and then shortly thereafter found 12-14 rolls of hay on fire less than one-quarter of a mile away from the cookie bakery, Hege said. The chief added he couldn't comment whether the garden center fire was suspicious.

The majority of the fire was between the nursery's main garden center and an adjacent open shelter that houses plants, Hege said. The shelter was a total loss, and the chief explained the main garden center sustained severe damage to the attic and a lot of water damage. Hege said the building is salvageable, although it sustained heavy damage.

"As far as any fire, there was never any fire down in the lower level," he said. "It was all pretty much confined to the attic."

Over 50 percent of the main garden center's roof was gone, Hege said. No one was in the building when the fire occurred. The cause of the fire, which took about 30 minutes to control, was unknown Tuesday morning.

Hege said firefighters cut a hole through the roof to confine the fire. "By doing that, we were able to save the rest of the structure," he said. "... Attic fires are really tough to fight."

About 30 firefighters were on the scene of the garden center fire, and no injuries occurred. A-RC-H firefighters were assisted by the Griffith, Midway and Welcome fire departments, as well as the Davidson County Fire Marshal's Office.

"All of the firefighters from all of the departments did a super job," Hege said. "They went back to their training and knowledge. They were able to do it safely."

Maj. Alton Hanes of Davidson County Emergency Services was on the scene investigating the fire. He was gathering information from residents who live near the business. Less than two hours after the fire, Hanes had said "there's a good chance" the business may be a total loss.

Sweatt has owned the business for 45 years. She said it was the first time she's ever had a fire at the location. Sweatt said she and one other employee worked there.

"I was trying to close it down, selling things out and cleaning up," she said. "I was going to close it down. I was going to retire."

Sweatt, who lives about a mile away from her business, was planning on retiring by August. She said a firefighter alerted her of the fire, and she quickly arrived at her business.

"I just couldn't think," Sweatt said about learning of the fire. "I was just rushing up here to see."

Sweatt was unsure what caused the fire. She said the business was insured.

Hege said the Davidson County Sheriff's Office responded to the dumpster fire, the N.C. Forestry Service to the hay fire and the Davidson County Fire Marshal's Office to the garden center fire. "Hopefully, everyone will get together who's investigating these fires," he said.

Darrick Ignasiak can be reached at 249-3981, ext. 217, or darrick.ignasiak@the-dispatch.com. Follow Darrick on Twitter: @DispatchDarrick

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