Berryville Chamber of Commerce catches fire

Friday, February 8, 2013
Damage is shown inside the Berryville Chamber of Commerce office Thursday after a fire there that morning left heavy damage in the building. Firefighers extinguished the blaze in just about 10 minutes, said Fire Chief Doug Johnson. Photo by David Bell / Carroll County News

BERRYVILLE -- A fire believed to have started in the attic of the Berryville Chamber of Commerce early Thursday morning has temporarily halted services provided to visitors and the community.

The fire that began around 8 a.m. is believed to have started by an electrical malfunction in the heating and air unit in an older area of the building, officials said. No injuries were reported, as no one was in the office at the time the fire began.

Mayor Tim McKinney said that the fire department reacted quickly to the call, and he believes that is what saved the building.

"The fire department responded pretty quickly," he said. "There was extensive damage but the structure itself was saved."

Though the building was not a total loss, the interior and its contents received widespread smoke and water damage.

Jay Lee, the administrative assistant to mayor of Berryville, anticipates that insurance will cover the damage caused by the fire.

As of Thursday evening, the insurance adjuster on the claim had not yet assessed the damages to the building and an estimation of repair costs has not been calculated.

The Chamber of Commerce carries content insurance on the building and should help replace the cost of internal items such as the computers and other office materials.

Many records that were kept on office computers were lost, but a filing cabinet that contained membership information was saved, said Berryville Chamber of Commerce Director Ginger Oaks.

By Thursday afternoon, Oaks had already begun making plans to send off her computer in an attempt to retrieve and restore many of the files.

For the next few days, city officials will begin to regroup and figure out the best plan of action to keep the Chamber of Commerce functioning for the community while the building is under repair.

McKinney said that they will begin looking into a new location for the chamber as soon as they are able and plans to speak with Oaks about a temporary location on Friday.

"I need to speak with the adjuster and assess the damages so we can get a better idea of how long it will take," he said.

Oaks said that she is leaving it up to the city to determine what will be the best temporary location for the Chamber of Commerce.

"It is really up to the city what they're going to do and how quickly," Oaks said. "I will be working on getting the chamber back up and running, but right now we are just regrouping."

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