Service Continues After Fire Destroys J.W. Burress Branch

Mon March 13, 2006 - Southeast Edition
Jeff Cronin

Flames ripped through J.W. Burress’ facility in Winston-Salem, NC, Feb. 28, destroying its parts inventory and office space.

“The building is probably a total loss,” said Senior Vice President Rick Graves.

But even fire didn’t keep the staff from performing its duties.

Employees temporarily moved into the Carswell Distribution Co. building next door to carry on their work and were expected by press time to move into office space at Pace Airlines, Graves said.

No equipment was damaged in the blaze, which is thought to have been an electrical fire that started in the men’s restroom.

In the days following the blaze, Graves said workers were salvaging equipment from the shop, almost all of which is in working order.

The company does not have concrete plans, but it will likely rebuild or remodel, not relocate. Graves said there were plans on the drawing board to renovate the facility, but now, it will likely demolish what’s left of the structure and start from scratch with a new footprint. Burress officials are already working with a contractor to design and construct the new facility.

Burress moved into its Winston-Salem location more than 40 years ago, he said.

Immediately following the fire, parts orders were being shipped to customers from other branches, including Roanoke, Asheville, Columbia and Raleigh. Equipment sales have not been affected, as most of those transactions occur at the job site, Graves said.

Senior Vice President Bill Daly said 25 to 30 people were working at the time of the fire, all of whom escaped injury.

“Certainly, that was the excellent news that came out of this,” Daly said.

Damage is estimated at $2 million. CEG