Fire Destroys North Carolina Woodworking Company

March 10, 2008

Two firefighters died and three others were injured while battling a fire that destroyed a central North Carolina woodworking company last week.

Firefighters Justin Monroe, 19, and Victor Isler, 40, died from injuries they got while trying to contain the fire at Salisbury, N.C. Millworks on March 7, Fire Chief Rick Parnell said.

“It’s a deeply sad day in Salisbury today,” Parnell said. “We lost two excellent firefighters. They are our friends, brothers and buddies. We’re a close, tight-knit group and every member is hurting.”

Two other firefighters were treated for burns at Rowan Regional Medical Center and released. A third firefighter, who also had burns, was expected to be released later on March 7 from North Carolina Baptist Hospital in Winston-Salem.

A steady rain helped firefighters knock down most of the flames at the company. Crews from as far away as Charlotte, about 40 miles south, were called to help battle the 7 a.m. fire.

The blaze left behind little of the family-owned company that made cabinets, doors and moldings for hospitals and businesses. The building walls had collapsed and smoke poured from the smoldering rubble.

The cause of the fire hasn’t been determined, Parnell said. The state fire marshal, the State Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are investigating.

The company has about 30 employees, said Darlene Mabe, whose husband, Leon, is the company’s vice president.

“Everybody is just heartbroken about this,” she said. “We don’t know what we’re going to do.”

Company president Norde Wilson declined comment.

Associated Press writer Estes Thompson in Raleigh contributed to this report.

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