Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

December 31, 2013

UPDATE: Fire burning downtown Tazewell building

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

TAZEWELL, Va. — Firefighters from several departments worked Tuesday evening to protect neighboring structures while a major blaze consumed a former furniture store on West Main Street in downtown Tazewell, Va.

The fire was reported 5:50 p.m., according to a dispatcher with Tazewell County 911. Firefighters from the town of Tazewell, the Bluefield, Va. Fire Department, Richlands Fire Department, Clearfork Fire Department and other agencies were dispatched to the scene.

Work lights illuminated the scene while firefighters labored to contain the blaze. A Bluefield, Va. ladder truck was used to send water onto the roof as flames flared up and smoke rose. The air was soon misty with water and the sidewalks and streets became icy underfoot. Tazewell police officers and troopers with the Virginia State Police kept onlookers back.

The building housed GuRu’s Then & Now Thrift Store, Becher’s Jewel Box & Diamond, a law office, and three apartments. One onlooker who arrived soon after the fire began said the blaze started in the rear of the building.

“It was contained to the back of the building, but then it slowly moved forward,” said Brad Pyott, 49, of Tazewell, Va.

Jesse Davis of Tazewell watched as his home burned. He was returning to his apartment when he saw that the building’s roof was smoking.

“I came up here and the whole building was on fire,” Davis said. Davis and firefighters alerted the other residents. No injuries were reported.

Davis said coal was used to heat the building, but added that the fire did not start in the furnace area. He was concerned about the fire reaching the coal bin.

“Everybody’s safe. That’s what matters,” he said.

By 8 p.m., firefighters were focusing on protecting neighboring buildings, said Fire Chief Josh Roberts of the Town of Tazewell Fire Department. The Tazewell National Bank was next door to the burning structure, and the Tazewell County Courthouse was nearby.

Fire departments were still on scene after 9 p.m.