‘It’s very devastating’: Massive fire tears through aircraft tire shop in Crewe

Updated: Apr. 23, 2021 at 5:32 PM EDT
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CREWE, Va. (WWBT) - Multiple units responded to a massive fire in Crewe on Friday morning.

Units from Blackstone, Crewe, Farmville, Victoria and Burkeville responded to the 200 block of West Virginia Avenue for the report of a fire at Wilkerson Aircraft Tires.

fire(Alan Kundman)

Black plumes of smoke ascended into the skies of Crewe as a fire ate away at the tire shop.

“When we got here, the building was pretty much fully involved,” said Crewe Fire Chief Val Wilson, adding that fire crews got the call around 11 a.m.

The fire grew so large, they had to call in assistance from Blackstone, Victoria, Farmville and Burkeville.

Officials believe the fire started with some rubber waste that began to smolder from a piece of equipment.

“It just got away from them. They tried to put it out with an extinguisher, but it was just too fast,” Wilson said.

There’s a heavy burden on Bill Wilkerson Jr.’s shoulders, as the third-generation owner of the shop.

“It’s really surreal, and we’re in the process of making plans on how to continue to serve our customers and how to carry on,” he said.

The business is a staple in the town of Crewe, first opening up as a car dealership in 1947 with Wilkerson’s grandfather. Eventually it found its wings in the aviation industry under his father, and now him.

fire(Alan Kundman)

“It’s one of those things where your life is a certain way and it feels kind of constant before that moment, and then after that, everything’s different,” the owner said.

Luckily, all 24 employees did make it out safely.

“The emotions are still very raw. It’s very devastating. Anyone who has lost things in a fire knows that it’s a very devastating thing,” Wilkerson said.

He adds that his shop was only one of a handful of shops in the country that service tires for 100-passenger jets and smaller-sized aircraft.

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