Petitions for charges against a juvenile have been issued in Tuesday’s fire at Walmart in Elkin, and corporate officials have announced a partial reopening of the store for this weekend.
According to a statement from Elkin Police Chief Monroe Wagoner Friday morning, a suspect was identified in the Tuesday night fire, which shut down Walmart for the remainder of the week, using store surveillance video.
On Thursday, Wagoner reported, “juvenile petitions for burning personal property and burning a public building were issued for a 15-year-old.”
It was estimated that Walmart losses for the damage to the store was in the $3 million range, Wagoner said.
He did confirm that the fire was intentionally set in the artificial flower section of the store. Upon arriving at the store, Elkin Police Department requested the assistance of the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation on the case.
About the same time the announcement was made about the identification of the suspect, Walmart officials announced the reopening of the CC Camp Road location.
“Beginning this Sunday, we anticipate a partial opening,” said Charles Crowson, senior manager of Corporate Communications for Walmart.
The partial opening will be the pharmacy, grocery and infant/baby food sections with a full opening to follow as soon as possible.
“We conduct a thorough inspection of all merchandise in situations like this according to standards and practices,” explained Crowson.
The extensive merchandise contained in a Walmart store means this process may be more involved than other locations that would not have the variety of exposed items that must be checked for smoke damage in order to ensure the safety and satisfaction of customers, the company explained.
“When something like this happens, the full team from the Walmart family comes out. We come together in situations like this,” said Crowson, stating many associates from the store are assisting in the cleaning and re-opening process. “The Elkin store is their store.”
Crowson said that despite the store’s trouble, no workers are losing income as a result of the fire or subsequent shut down. “All scheduled associates are being fully compensated or being located [temporarily] to other stores,” said Crowson. “No one is losing money on this incident.”
Crowson said Wednesday in a statement, “We appreciate our customers’ understanding during this time.”
Details about Tuesday’s fire
“There was no structural damage,” to the store building, according to Jimmy Ashburn, who is an inspector with the fire marshal’s office. He assisted with the investigation along with the Elkin fire and police departments and the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation.
“People hear ‘structural fire’ and they think the building has to be re-built. That is not the case,” thanks to the quick efforts of the three employees who were treated for minor injuries at the scene, said Ashburn. “Nobody really got hurt. Just flushing out eyes and such.”
Although the names of these individuals have not yet been released, Ashburn credited them for controlling the situation. “They did a good job extinguishing the fires,” said Ashburn, which helped the Elkin, CC Camp and State Road fire departments who reported to the scene.
“The first engine was on the scene pretty quick,” said Ashburn. “They received the call at 22:32 (10:32 p.m.) and were there in maybe two to three minutes. More like two.”
“It started low and burned up,” Wagoner said, noting that the size of the fire was no larger than what was seen in a picture circulating from an unknown photographer online. He said it was put out immediately, not long after the picture was taken.
Boonville, Jot-Um-Down, Arlington and Pleasant Hill fire departments assisted by covering for those at Walmart.
Beanie Taylor can be reached at 336-258-4058 or on Twitter @TBeanieTaylor.