SUFFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — James Williams drives by the Mar-Ja building in Suffolk all the time on his way to work. But he had never seen it the way he did around 5:30 Friday morning.
“I was on my way to work, like a normal Friday morning, I always come down this road. I got to the end of the road and I saw the smoke coming up,” said Williams.
As he reached for his phone to call 911, he realized firefighters were already there.
“I could feel the heat and see the flames,” Williams said.
No one was inside the building, located on Moore Avenue near Roanoke Street, and no one was hurt. More than 50 firefighters worked to put out the flames, including Suffolk Fire Academy recruits.
“Our instructors brought us out and it’s good to see the teamwork,” said recruit Dominic Genito.
“That’s all we want to do is put in the work,” Genito said.
Because of the intense heat, firefighters took extra precautions to stay safe.
“We have a rehab bus here rehab is very important like an athlete you cant just keep working and working without rest,” said Barakey.
Investigators are still working to figure out what caused the fire.
While firefighters initially said the building was owned by Producers Peanuts, they clarified it’s owned by Mar-Ja Inc. WAVY is working to clarify connections and what is stored in the facility.
Officials confirm the fire was marked under control at 7:41 a.m. Friday.
Fire officials say there are surrounding structures, including a 500-gallon propane tank, that are potentially at risk of fire exposure, but crews have been able to keep them from catching fire.
“Having a 300 by 400 foot building with heavy fire through the roof — it was very dramatic,” said Chief Michael Barakey. “There’s a lot of fire. The exposures were very close. We have three alarms working right now. Also crews were able to start getting water on the fire very quickly and we were able to save two very close buildings. That is very fortunate for this production area down here.”
The fire marshal is investigating the cause and the owner of the warehouse, MAR-JA Incorporated, is working with officials to go over the contents of the building.
Check WAVY.com for the latest updates.