- Last Updated on 10:38 AM 01/06/10
- BY Paula I. Bryant
The scorched remains of a Halifax County landmark came down this week as Jerry Epps Landscape Company razed the former NAPA store on Spencer Hill.
The wooden frame structure went up in flames Sunday evening, June 28.
A Halifax councilman in search of a Sunday night hot dog smelled the pungent stench of smoke and spotted flames coming from the back of a town landmark.
Wheeling into the first open store, he asked a man in the parking lot if he could borrow his cell phone to make a 911 emergency call.
The man handed his phone to the councilman who sent out the 9:14 p.m. call, alerting a fire in progress on Spencer Hill.
“That’s my business,” said the stranger as details emerged.
In a twist of irony that fateful night, Councilman Tommy Reagan had unknowingly borrowed the cell phone from NAPA Store proprietor George “Buddy” Vaughan, owner of the burning business.
Dozens of firemen would shoot over 400,000 gallons of water on the NAPA store by early morning, containing the fire but losing the structure, whose random scorched beams still smoldered amidst the rubble the next morning.
For the next two days flames would ignite drawing firemen back to the scene.
At the height of the June 28 fire, more than 40 firefighters from three departments converged on the mid-1930s wooden structure ablaze on Spencer Hill.
A large crowd of Halifax town officials and residents, as well as curious bystanders, gathered to watch as flames leaped high into the sky – so high they were reportedly seen from Main Street, Halifax.
Many snapped pictures with cameras and cell phones as the historic landmark was reduced to little more than scarred lumber, rubble and ashes.
The building, a wooden structure with a tin roof, had originally been part of Spencer Lumber Company and is still owned by the Spencer family, according to town officials.
The cause of the fire that destroyed the historic structure remains a mystery, according to Halifax Police Chief David Martin.
“The state police investigation found the cause of the fire to be of undetermined origin,” Martin said this week as the demolition got under way.
The wooden structure, built in the early 1900s, was part of Spencer Lumber Company for many years. The building had undergone renovation several years ago with the addition of a new front entrance and had been home to several businesses over the years.