ESSEX COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — A massive fire in Tappahannock has completely destroyed an entire city block, which housed several businesses and buildings in the downtown area.
Many buildings — including the Martin Sale Furniture Store, a café, a hair studio and a real estate agency — were engulfed in flames, in the 200 block of Prince Street, in the historic district around 11 a.m. Friday, July 15. The fire remains active as of 4:30 p.m., and the full effects of the blaze are not expected to be known for several days.
Tappahannock Fire Chief Paul Richardson said the fire department received a call for smoke inside the Martin Sale Furniture Store around 11 a.m. The store was open to the public at the time of the call. Richardson said the fire was found to have begun on the upper level of the building, but the cause is currently unknown.
Seven total fire departments from all local jurisdictions and across the state responded to the massive fire. A total of five towns supplied thousands of gallons of water to fight the blaze. Richardson said four firefighters were diagnosed with heat exhaustion during the fight and went to VCU Medical Center for medical treatment.
As a result of the fire, several 500-gallon tanks of propane exploded, and shrapnel was thrown into the air.
The fire chief said that everyone was able to escape from the affected buildings, and nobody was injured.
The fire department estimated that the fire caused at least $2,000,000 in damages. Three buildings were completely destroyed and three were partially damaged, including neighboring homes and an apartment complex.
All lanes of Route 360 just south of the Downing Bridge were closed around 12:30 p.m. Friday due to the fire, and were later reopened just before 6 p.m.
Tappahannock Main Street Association is actively working to feed and hydrate all first responders on site, with donations from Roma Ristorante Italiano, Bella Pizza & Italian Restaurant, Lowe’s, Food Lion, Walmart and more.