Fire destroys decades-old building in Tappahannock

Fire destroys decades-old building in Tappahannock

TAPPAHANNOCK, Va. (WWBT) - Fire crews responded to an intense vehicle fire located in a building in Tappahannock on Monday.

At 6:38 p.m., the Tappahannock-Essex Volunteer Fire Department responded to the report of a vehicle fire inside the old Tappahannock Ford building located on Church Lane near Hoskins Creek.

Over 30 firefighters were on the scene.
Over 30 firefighters were on the scene. (Source: Daniel Choi)

“I went outside to find out what was going on and there was big, billowing black smoke,” said Elaine Hilowitz, who lives just around the corner from the structure, which was auto repair shop, Boone’s Auto.

Burned out cars sit in a pile, behind other debris after fire destroys Boone's Auto in Tappahannock.
Burned out cars sit in a pile, behind other debris after fire destroys Boone's Auto in Tappahannock. (Source: wwbt/ncb12)

Fire officials say they originally responded to a vehicle fire, called in by a mechanic at the shop before he evacuated. That vehicle fire quickly evolved into a bigger problem, because of things like racing fuel inside the garage.

During the attack, crews say several large explosions occurred, sending debris hundreds of feet away and was heard over five miles away.

”That was the first thing that I heard: the explosion. It was like nothing I’d ever heard before, on top of which, I felt the concussion - and I was in my home!” Hilowitz added.

The fire was hot enough to melt the front end of cars parked towards the back of the lot, and siding of a nearby business.
The fire was hot enough to melt the front end of cars parked towards the back of the lot, and siding of a nearby business. (Source: wwbt/nbc12)

The owner of the auto shop didn’t want to speak as he surveyed what was left of his livelihood, a business he only started three years earlier.

Mayor Roy Gladding says the old Rappahannock Building - as it was named - has stood for at least six decades, playing host to various dealerships, like Ford Motor Company.

“It is a shame, a lot of different businesses have been in there over the years,” Mayor Gladding said.

The mayor himself holds on to a memory of the building from his childhood.

”First recollection of this building was maybe when I was 5 years old and came down here - it was a Ford tractor dealership- coming down with my father,” he added.

According to Chief Paul Richardson, nearly 100,000 gallons of water were used to extinguish the fire.

Over 30 firefighters were on the scene.
Over 30 firefighters were on the scene. (Source: Daniel Choi)

Over 30 firefighters were on the scene.

No injuries were reported.

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