Asheville fire officials continue to investigate warehouse fire at New Belgium site

Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

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Catching up from the news of last Friday night, when a fire took down the former Penland’s auction house and part of another warehouse building on the old stockyard site, a site on Craven Street that will be home to New Belgium Brewing’s new $175 million brewery. A New Belgium official visited the site today to check it out.

Thanks to loyal reader Court for the fire photos she sent, posted here. Awesome. Here’s what she wrote:

Thought you would like to see these – here are a few pictures of the fire tonight on Craven St.  A fire marshall drove past me as I was in my car, staring at the flames, about to call it in.  It started accelerating, things were popping and exploding, so I drove across the bridge, walked back and took these pictures.  There were two separate fires, I have pictures of the larger one.  I have never seen a fire like that, it was pretty amazing!

One quick thought on the fire: I know there’s a lot of history tied to the site, which was home to everything from an old auto shop to a livestock market and a beloved auction house, but I think it’s time to get over our nostalgia for some ugly, dangerous, dilapidated warehouses. More on the that tomorrow.

Meantime, Asheville police and fire officials need your help:

The City of Asheville Fire Department has responded to eight structure fires in the past five days. Four of these structure fires were intentionally set. The Fire Department is asking the community for their help in obtaining any information related to these fires. Please contact the Asheville Police Department at 828-252-1110 or Crime Stoppers at 828-255-5050 or send a tip via text message specifically to the Asheville PD by Texting “APDTIP plus your tip” to 274637 (CRIMES).
April 1st 40 Simpson St. – Cause: Intentionally Set
April 1st 28 Waters Rd. – Cause: Unintentional
April 2nd 45 Oregon Ave. – Cause: Unintentional
April 2nd 159 Riverside Dr. – Cause: Intentionally Set
April 3rd 2500 River Ridge Dr. – Cause: Undetermined
April 5th 165 Craven St. – Cause: Intentionally Set
April 5th 91 Craven St. – Cause: Intentionally Set
April 6th 16 Shady Oak Dr. – Cause: Undetermined

And New Belgium’s press release regarding the fire:

Fire Damages Two Buildings at New Belgium’s Craven Street Property
Asheville Fire Department Investigating Blaze

Asheville, NC – April 6, 2013 – Fire damaged two separate buildings on New Belgium’s Craven Street construction site in Asheville after a blaze broke out around 11:00 pm on Friday, April 5th. No injuries were reported and Asheville Fire Department had the blaze fully contained by 4:00 am. The Penland Auction House and a hay barn were heavily damaged. Investigators are calling the fire intentional. New Belgium Asheville General Manager, Jay Richardson, is flying in to meet with community leaders and fire officials.

“The safety of our contractors and of our friends and neighbors in the community is our top priority,” said Richardson. “We will work closely with Asheville Fire Department officials to determine the cause of the blaze. We will put every available resource into securing a safe working environment so that construction will continue on schedule and uninterrupted.”

New Belgium has been paying for increased security by off-duty Asheville Police Department personnel and a private security firm since February, 2013. In light of several recent suspicious fires in the area, New Belgium will pay to increase those existing patrols. Damage to fencing has been repaired and the site is currently locked and considered secure.

The Auction House was set for disassembly this spring. Materials were to be used on-site and repurposed by Old World Architectural Salvage of Asheville.

“The loss of those materials is certainly disheartening,” said Richardson. “This event only focuses our efforts to revitalize this site into a place that will truly make Asheville proud.”

Anyone with information regarding the fire is asked to contact the Buncombe County Crimestoppers:

Lt. Randy Smart

New Belgium will post updates to their website and Facebook pages as there are developments:

Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

  • 1

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  1. Jtroop April 9, 2013

    The police presence in the River Arts District has picked up considerably, which should drop the risk of another abandoned building getting targeted there as long as it stays consistent. But if this turns out to be serial arsonist, as opposed to multiple opportunists, they could shift to other districts in the area.

    If this is limited to the RAD, however, it might lend itself to some folks’ suspicions that these events are driven by other motivations…..hint hint…wink..wink

    1. Smytty April 10, 2013

      I have no idea what you are hinting at.

      Seems likely to me that a fire bug who knows that the buildings will be demolished is getting a chance to watch their craft in a “safe place” (acknowledging that there’s not a safe place for arson). If you are suggesting that New Belgium is doing this rather than demo-ing, that just doesn’t make any sense considering their environmentally friendly ethic. If you are suggesting that someone is somehow doing this to protest New Belgium’s arrival – why would then burn down empty decrepit buildings slated for demo?

      I hope no one gets hurt and I hope they find the responsible party/parties.

      1. Sean April 10, 2013

        Are you just now learning that people LOVE them some conspiracy theories? The Lord only knows where we would be without Snopes.

      2. Frank April 10, 2013

        Furthermore, one of the other fires the AFD cited in their request for public help the other day was a similar, abandoned factory in a hidden corner of town (Behind Target), which leads credence to the firebug theory, in my mind.

      3. Murphy April 11, 2013

        One of the buildings that burned at the NB site was full of already salvaged materials some of which had already been refinished for use …

  2. Murphy April 9, 2013

    Why are there no streetlights in the area … at the least it might be a deterrent …


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