Town hall Labor Day fire remains under investigation

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A Labor Day fire that destroyed the town clerk’s office remains under investigation.

Mount Olive town officials await the official report, but suspect the cause may have come from an electrical source.

The Mount Olive Fire Department received a call at 2:33 a.m. on Labor Day after an off-duty police officer smelled smoke coming from the building. He alerted the fire department and Jammie Royall, town manager.

“It took them four minutes to arrive, but that is the longest four minutes I have ever experienced in my life,” Royall said. “It seemed like about 20 minutes.”

Wiggins said when firemen arrived on the scene, thick smoke had engulfed the building. Firemen entered and crawled along the hallway before they determined the source of the fire. Dudley, Indian Springs and Oakwood fire departments provided assistance..

The fire had been contained to and snuffed itself out inside the town clerk’s office. When firemen broke through the glass door, an onrush of oxygen caused the fire to start again, but it was immediately extinguished.

“We’re very fortunate. It could have been worse if the doors to offices were not closed,” said Greg Wiggins, MOFD chief.

Intense heat melted the phone and computer on Sherry Davis’ desk, and turned some papers into ashes. Davis said that important records and papers had been placed on a backup system.

“Had I not been contacted before getting to the office I am sure I would have been shocked,” Davis said.

Water and smoke damage occurred in offices occupied by the town manager, mayor, human resources, parks and recreation and building inspections. Those offices will be temporarily relocated in the courtroom, magistrate’s office, police department and senior citizens faciity.

Telephone numbers to those offices remain operable.

Wiggins estimated the damage at approximately $100,000, but will await the insurance adjustor’s final report.

Town hall is valued at $2.3 million and its contents are $1.3 million.

Royall said ServePro of Goldsboro will handle cleanup efforts. He anticipates normal operations to resume in about two months.

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