A fire heavily damaged two buildings at New Belgium Brewing Co.’s Craven Street property in Asheville, N.C., over the weekend, and authorities think it was intentional. In fact, it may be the fourth case of arson in the last week on New Belgium’s property in the area.
Fire damaged two separate buildings on New Belgium’s Craven Street construction site in Asheville after a blaze broke out around 11 p.m. on April 5. No injuries were reported and Asheville Fire Department had the blaze fully contained by 4 a.m. The Penland Auction House and a hay barn were heavily damaged. Investigators are calling the fire intentional, and local news sources are calling the fire one of many. According to the local 9 news channel (wsoctv.com):
Someone has intentionally set at least four fires in the past week. The latest one happened at a brewery in Asheville that is about to be built. The others happened at two warehouses on New Belguim Brewing’s property. Officials said most of the fires have been set in old, abandoned buildings and firefighters warn that fighting them can be very dangerous.
“It’s extremely hazardous situation; it’s an unbelievable crime. Arson is just a very destructive, dangerous thing that someone could do in our community,” said Chief Scott Burnett of the Asheville Fire Department.
Saturday, New Belgium Asheville General Manager, Jay Richardson, was reported to be 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,” Richardson said. “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. 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,” Richardson said. “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, 828-778-0011 or www.buncombecounty.org/governing/depts/sheriff/Crimestop.aspx.