NICHOLASVILLE — A Wednesday afternoon fire destroyed a warehouse and office complex in a business park off U.S. 27 known locally as "the drag strip."
No one was hurt in the fire reported at 3:30 p.m. But building owner Mike Simpson said the structure at 204 Normandy Court went quickly.
Simpson, owner of Simpson & Co. Painting Contractors, which has office space in the building, said someone knocked on his door and told him, "You're building's on fire."
"I didn't smell smoke or anything, but I did notice a little bit of white smoke in the parking lot," Simpson said. "And then almost immediately, a little bit of smoke got into my unit, and it just started filling up. I was beside myself: What do I grab? A computer? Payroll checks? My car keys?"
"And while I'm trying to figure it out, it just steadily filled with smoke, and I knew I had to get out," Simpson said. "So I grabbed a bunch of checks and by the time I got out the door, the smoke was rolling over the top of the building. The front parking lot was totally black, and I just fought my way through the smoke to the street and then I turned back and looked at it, and fire was already coming out of the roof. Within 15 minutes, the whole building was engulfed in flames."
Collett Plumbing and Aper Insulation also occupied office space in the building, Simpson said. The businesses are in a commercial park that was once the site of a drag strip.
Simpson said the building is about 25 years old, and he has owned it for about 20.
The building has about 5,000 square feet of warehouse and 1,500 to 2,000 square feet of office space, Simpson said.
Simpson said he did not know what would have caused the fire. "I did talk with the fire chief and he said it's hard to pinpoint right now, but they will investigate it. The fire chief told me it's a total loss. The floor has collapsed."
"But we'll recover and we'll move forward."