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Thread: (KY) Parker Tobacco damaged in fire

  1. #1
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    Default (KY) Parker Tobacco damaged in fire

    Parker Tobacco Company at Abandoned
    You have no idea how pissed I am right now! This was a pristine location, untouched by vandals or by anyone since its closure in the late 1990s! And now, a good chunk of it is gone I just posted my galleries for this location not that long ago, so I am relieved that at least we were able to document it while it was still in that condition.

    --

    Parker Tobacco Warehouse damaged in fire
    Wednesday, May 23, 2007 12:06 AM EDT
    Staff Writers

    First reported to Mason County 911 dispatch as, "flames visible from behind Standard Supply," later visible from downtown Maysville, a piece of Maysville history was severely damaged by fire Tuesday night, forcing the evacuation of residents on part of Center Street.

    Firefighters from throughout the area fought the blaze for almost two hours, but by 11 p.m. most of the flames had been extinguished although black smoke continued to pour from the buildings.

    Parker Tobacco Warehouse, a 200,000 square foot complex built by R.J. Reynolds in 1918, and once a central building in the burley tobacco industry was partially engulfed in flames as fire crept from the prize room at the rear of the complex, forward toward the main part of the building, witnesses said.

    Maysville Fire Department sent multiple units to the scene and immediately requested additional tanker trucks from Orangeburg, Washington, Dover, Lewisburg Fire Departments and a ladder truck from Ripley Fire Department. Aberdeen Volunteer Fire Department also responded to the scene.

    A command post was set up near WFTM radio for volunteers who came from multiple departments to assist in fighting the fire. Other volunteers were sent to a staging area on Center Street near Wald Manufacturing.

    Buckley Place and Lexington Avenue were closed during the fire that raged into the night.

    A boost in water pressure was attempted by the Maysville Utility company by increasing pressure at the water tower, officials said, and representatives from Kentucky Utilities were at the scene to cut power to the area. Representatives from Columbia Gas were also at the scene.

    Crowds of people gathered along Forest Avenue to watch the fire as flames shot into the sky, gray and black smoke rolling into the night. Cries of "it's spreading," and talk of an explosion spread through the crowds.

    Among the crowd were two former employees of Parker Tobacco Warehouse.

    Jerry Ormes and Greg Gallenstein watched as the flames consumed the rear portion of the building.

    "It's just like memories are being burned up," said Ormes, who worked as vice president of Parker Tobacco. Ormes was employed by Parker Tobacco Warehouse for 28 years.

    Ormes said the warehouse once employed as many as 500 people from the area, many of whom accepted jobs there to help finance Christmas presents or pay for education.

    All employees, Ormes said, were aware of fire hazards inside the building.

    "You had to be cautious about heating up the motors with the dust," he said, though the inside had a sprinkling system.

    Occasionally small fires started in the building, though Gallenstein remembered one fire in particular. That fire, in 1982, was "major," said Gallenstein, who worked at the warehouse for 18 years.

    The warehouse has stood vacant for a number of years, according to Maysville Mayor David Cartmell, who sold tobacco at the warehouse for about 15 years. Cartmell said with a warehouse fire there is always a possibility of it jumping to buildings in the area. In the vicinity of the warehouse was the E.B. Hillenmeyer building and the old Browning building.

  2. #2
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    Long night for firefighters
    Wednesday, May 23, 2007 6:03 PM EDT
    MARLA TONCRAY Staff Writer

    The Maysville Fire Department was still on the scene of the Parker Tobacco Company fire Wednesday morning as smoke continued to rise from the smoldering remains of the prize-redry room located at the rear of the complex off Forest Avenue.

    MFD Fire Chief Eric Bach said he and his men stayed at the scene throughout the night to insure hot spots throughout the structure were contained. Bach said assisting fire units from Washington, Lewisburg, Aberdeen, Ripley, Orangeburg and Dover left the fire scene by 3 a.m.

    A trackhoe was brought to the sight to begin demolition of the rear wall of the structure by 9 a.m. MFD Assistant Fire Chief Jeff Brammer said the trackhoe would also be used to create a trench through the center of the building, leading from the alley to the east of the building to the western side, to locate hot spots blocked by collapsed metal.

    Brammer said it was too early to determine what caused the explosions during the fire, but it was possible they were caused by propane tanks on tow motors inside the building.

    By 10 a.m. an arson investigator from Kentucky State Police was on site and conducting interviews with fire personnel and Alex Parker, former owner of the building. Within an hour, enough of the rear wall had been knocked down to allow Bach and the KSP investigator access to the interior of the structure to begin their investigation as to the cause of the fire.

    Parker said he and his wife Betsy received a call about the fire around 10 p.m. Tuesday night. He said they, like other onlookers in the crowd, watched as the fire consumed the building.

    "The fire department did one fantastic job, and the police department; they handled this thing really well," Parker said. "Luckily there was no wind."

    Parker said the buiilding is owned by his son, Sam Parker, under the business name of Kentucky Tobacco Processors. Sam Parker was expected in Maysville Wednesday afternoon to meet with his father and visit the property. Parker said his son carried insurance on the property, but was unsure of the exact details of the coverage.

    The Parker Tobacco Company proceessing facility was built in 1918 by R.J. Reynolds. The Parker family purchased the property around 1959, after R.J. Reynolds decided to build a new facility in Lexington. Parker said the building and equipment have been for sale or lease for "about five or six years" and efforts will continue to "get someone in the property to do something with the building."

    Reflecting briefly about his family's ties to the building and the demise of the tobacco industry in Maysville, Parker said simply he "wasn't going to worry about it because there was nothing you could do" about the loss of the tobacco industry or the fire which destroyed part of his family's building.

    "It was wonderful while it was there, but it's gone," he said.

    "I miss 'em, I tell you -- we were very fortunate to have the people we had working for us," he said, a reference to the many people throughout the community who worked at Parker Tobacco Company throughout its history.

  3. #3
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    Parker fire interupts relaxing night
    By MISTY MAYNARD Staff Writer
    Wednesday, May 23, 2007 5:58 PM EDT

    Samantha Lowe and Meredith Zeigler were watching a movie Tuesday night when they heard the sirens from fire engines, police cars and other emergency responders. Curious to know what was going on, the two women went out onto their roof where they saw the blaze that consumed a portion of the Parker Tobacco complex off Forest Avenue.

    The two women first watched events as they unfolded from their rooftop. Then they decided to walk along Forest Avenue closer to the scene and get a better view of the fire.

    Zeigler and Lowe were only two of a large crowd of people who gathered along the sidewalks, watching as smoke rolled up into the night sky and streams of water battled the intense heat of the blaze.

    David Case, whose residence is near the warehouse, said a neighbor alerted him to the fire. From his vantage point, he could see ash rising from the building and occasional flames as they climbed higher.

    "It looks like it's gotten worse since I've been here," he commented at one point.

    The fire started shortly before 10 p.m. in the 200,000 square foot complex built by R.J. Reynolds in 1918. Once a central building in the burley tobacco industry, the fire is suspected to have started in the prize room at the rear of the complex. The processing plant and redrying facility has stood vacant for a number of years.

    Maysville Fire Department sent multiple units to the scene and immediately requested additional tanker trucks from Orangeburg, Washington, Dover, Lewisburg and Aberdeen Volunteer Fire Departments, as well as a ladder truck from Ripley Fire Department.

    "This one was one of the bigger fires we've had," MFD Chief Eric Bach said, though he noted everything went smoothly at the scene.

    Arriving on the scene, Bach said the main concern was to insure the safety of the public as well as the safety of about a hundred firefighters who responded with the various departments.

    The majority of the firefighting Tuesday night took place outside the building, as the situation inside the building was too volatile.

    Firefighters worked in shifts, taking occasional respite from the heat as more firefighters moved in. Bach said community members brought firefighters water and food, which they appreciated.

    By 11 p.m., it appeared firefighters had the blaze contained, and by 1 a.m., Bach said the fire was out.

    Bach said during the course of the night the fire departments likely used more than a million gallons of water. The Maysville Utility Commission at one point boosted water pressure to the area to help firefighters at the scene.

    Bach said the exact origin of the fire was not yet determined. Cause of the fire was also still under investigation. A Kentucky State Police arson investigator was on the scene by about 10 a.m. Wednesday.

    Bach arrived on the scene shortly after the fire broke out Tuesday night and had not left the scene as of early Wednesday afternoon.

    Firefighters were still targeting potential hot spots in the building, and Bach said the fire department would check the structure daily for a while to insure all the hot spots were out.

  4. #4
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    Another warehouse target of fire
    By MISTY MAYNARD Staff Writer
    Wednesday, May 23, 2007 6:00 PM EDT

    While firefighters from seven departments battled the blaze consuming Parker Tobacco Processing Plant from Tuesday night into the early morning hours on Wednesday, it appears someone tried to start a similar fire in a warehouse nearby.

    According to Lt. Justin Horch of the Maysville Police Department, a person or persons attempted to start as many as six to eight fires in the warehouse located at 700 Bryant Lane, located only five or six city blocks from Parker Tobacco.

    Horch said he received a call from a woman identified as Mindy Flinders about 1 p.m. Wednesday. The warehouse is owned by Duke Warehouse, Horch said, though Flinders is currently in the process of purchasing the building.

    Horch said it was after 11:30 p.m. Tuesday when someone attempted to start the fires in the warehouse.

    "Fortunately, the material they tried to burn just didn't burn," he said, adding the material appeared to be some sort of plyboard. It appeared a liquid had been poured over the material, Horch said.

    Damage to the structure was minimal, Horch said.

    While Horch said police are investigating the Parker fire and the attempted arson as two separate incidents, he noted the timing on both incidences was unusual.

    "It's strange that we have two fires... in about a 12-hour period," he said.

    Horch said if anyone has any information on either the attempted arson or the Parker Tobacco fire which is still under investigation, to call either the Maysville Police Department at 606-564-9411 or 1-800-27-ARSON. Calls can be made anonymously.

  5. #5
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    Damn that is a shame. Industrial buildings of that nature will not be built again in america in the foreseeable future.
    "As a community we are united in our struggle, we say yes to life, no to things which threaten to destory us. Today we move towards a lifstyle of human values, based on love, governed by honesty, and secured by trust. No longer do we stand alone. We must be as open as the air, with the will to survive, the will to learn, and the will to create. We are a creative force motivated by each other. For the will of the people is the greatest force conceivable." - written on wall of mental hospital

  6. #6
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    FYI guys, I checked it out on sunday and the best parts (cough offices cough) are still intact.

    The race is on.

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