SBI steps in to determine cause of two fires in Caldwell Co.



CALDWELL COUNTY, N.C. - Firefighters are investigating the cause of two large fires that sparked in Lenoir Sunday morning. 

The first fire was reported around 1:30 a.m. at the old Broyhill Furniture main office on Willow Street. The second fire was called in only a few hours later, just a few blocks away at a home on Stage Street.

The fires at both locations were much larger than expected when firefighters first arrived at the scene.

They were forced to call several off-duty firefighters to help at both locations.  Some officers were even diverted from the furniture building fire to help at the house fire. 

At one point, they fought flames that shot more than 50 feet in the air.

Officials said when they arrived at the house fire, the flames were already burning through the roof.

The fires were in such close proximity officials are determining whether they are connected.

No one was reportedly hurt in either fire.  

As smoke continued to billow out of the old Broyhill Furniture office for hours, neighbors came out to watch and reflect on the office, which has not been used for decades.

"I remember when it was thriving," said Lenoir Mayor, Joe Gibbons. "This used to be a hub for furniture. We'll miss that part of it but unfortunately times change."

Lenoir fire investigators are working with local police and the State Bureau of Investigation to determine how the fires started and whether they are connected.

For now, authorities are not calling the fires suspicious, but point out that not only did they start in close proximity but they both happened inside vacant buildings without running electricity.

Investigators said it could be a couple of days before the exact causes of the fire are known.