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UPDATE: Sawmill fire in Bedford still smoldering

By Web Staff, WDBJ7, news@wdbj7.com
Published On: Apr 23 2014 07:20:30 PM EDT
Updated On: Apr 24 2014 09:01:50 PM EDT

The business on Centreville Road caught fire yesterday and is still smoldering.

BEDFORD, Va. -

The sawmill fire at Central Virginia Pallet and Stake Company in Bedford is still smoldering Thursday.

The business, which is located on Centreville Road, caught on fire Wednesday. Officials expect the fire to keep smoldering for a few days.

Officials believe the fire caused around $75,000 in damage. The owner did not have insurance.

The cause of the fire has not been determined yet. The fire marshal will not assess the scene until the fire stops smoldering.

Gerald Ayers is the sole owner of the sawmill. Ayers told WDBJ7 that his life was dedicated to the business.

He said he taught history back in the 1970s before getting married. That's when he started making pallet and survey stakes.

For about 15 years, Ayers said he was working around the clock. He spent his days teaching and his nights making pallets before having a stroke in 1998.

He spent about six months in the hospital. Once released, he spent much of his time at home. He said he wanted to do something to keep him motivated and that's when he started making pallets again.

He said his business went up in flames 13 months ago and it suffered $100,000 worth of damage. After that fire, he moved his business into another building where he used to work on trucks and forklifts.

Now, he is struggling to figure out what to do next since his business went up in flames again.

Ayers said he currently employs nine people full time. He has one part-time worker.

He is torn between rebuilding, or telling his employees to file for unemployment.

Ayers said he is considering retiring, cutting his losses, and traveling the world.

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Crews responded to a fire at Central Virginia Pallet and Stake Company  on Centerville Road in Bedford Wednesday.

The business is a sawmill.

Centerville Road is closed.

When Bedford fire crews arrived at the sawmill, the main building was engulfed in flames. Power lines around the building were on fire and the main building was gone.

Crews worked to protect the surrounding buildings.

The incident is under investigation, and we’re told it seems accidental.

No one was hurt in the fire.

Damage estimates are about $75,000.

The owner says the place is not insured.

The property is about two acres. We're told it's thought to be contained to that property.

The Virginia Department of Forestry assisted to help set up containment lines. and keep the fire from spreading to the woods.

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