ALBEMARLE –– Early Sunday morning, two law office buildings in downtown Albemarle were damaged in a fire that needed a total of 76 fire service personnel to control.
The Albemarle Fire Marshal’s Office has since determined the cause of the fire at the Parnell Law Offices building on 200 S. Second St. to be incendiary in nature, meaning it was intentionally set.
The Albemarle Police Department and the Office of the State Fire Marshal are currently carrying out further investigations on the incident and will then determine whether criminal charges for arson are necessary.
“We can rebuild,” Charles Parnell of the Parnell Law Office told SCJ. “I’m just glad that nobody got hurt.”
It was also determined that a secondary fire at 120 King Ave, a building containing Lowder Law Offices and Bowling Law Firm, was caused by an exposure hazard.
“The embers that were being put off by the fire at Parnell’s office made their way to the roof of Lowder’s office,” said Fire Marshal Michael D. Roark. “It involved part of the second floor and then some area between the first and second floor.”
The fire began early shortly after 4 a.m. on Sunday morning, and then soon after, at 4:19 a.m., the Albemarle Fire Department and North Carolina Air National Guard Fire Department were dispatched to the Parnell Law Offices building to investigate.
Five minutes later, Albemarle Engine 121 confirmed the situation and then Albemarle Engines 111 and 131 arrived to begin the fire suppression process. At 5:00 a.m., personnel discovered the second fire and all off-duty Albemarle firefighters were alerted to determine potential availability.
Eventually, 76 members of the Albemarle, Bethany, East Side, Endy, NC Air National Guard, New London, Center Rural and Oakboro Fire Departments responded to the scene to provide water assistance. Meanwhile, members of the Millingport, Richfield and South Side Fire Departments were sent to Albemarle Fire Stations to cover emergency calls during that time.
The Albemarle Fire Department also received investigative assistance from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the Office of the State Fire Marshal and Union County Fire Marshal’s Office’s Accelerant Detection K-9 Unit.
“Albemarle Fire Department would like to extend our deepest gratitude to all agencies involved in assisting during this time. In addition to the agencies previously listed, we would also like to thank Albemarle Police Department, Stanly County EMS, Stanly County Emergency Services and Stanly County 911,” an official press release read.
The Albemarle Fire Marshal’s Office encourages anyone with information regarding this incident to reach out to the Albemarle Fire Department and the Albemarle Police Department.