Planters Warehouse Burns in Virginia

State and federal investigators are probing an early morning fire yesterday that destroyed the Planters Warehouse and damaged nearby buildings in downtown South Boston.

Witnesses at the scene said flames were rising well over 100 feet into the air at the height of the blaze as fire fighters from Halifax County and from neighboring Danville and Roxboro, N.C., battled to protect nearby buildings from heat and fire damage.

"When we got the call, we brought everything we had," South Boston Fire Chief William Murray said. "The building was fully involved when we arrived and we just did everything we could to keep it from spreading to surrounding buildings. That was our primary goal."

The fire destroyed nearly 330,000 pounds of flue-cured tobacco and a myriad of equipment from other local businesses being stored in the warehouse. Damage from the fire also brought tobacco auctions in Halifax County to a close, at least temporarily.

"The tobacco buyout was going to make it so the warehouses had a fighting chance to come back," owner Charlie Payne said Tuesday morning as battled the blaze. "I don