Electrical failure sparked massive shopping center fire, investigators say

SKY TRACKER: Greenfield Street supermarket fire
Updated: May. 3, 2018 at 6:57 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Investigators have determined what caused a fire that consumed most of the Village Plaza Shopping Center in Wilmington Wednesday night.

Fire crews were called out to the shopping center on Greenfield Street around 7 p.m. after receiving reports that it was on fire. As crews arrived at the scene, heavy smoke and flames were visible from the attic.

Crews from the Wilmington Fire Department and New Hanover County Fire Rescue had the fire under control by 12:20 a.m. Thursday.

Most of the businesses in the shopping center, including Everybody's Supermarket, Spiro's Breakfast and Lunch House, World Beauty Supply, Quail's Quality Cuts, and CityLife Church, were completely destroyed along with two parked cars.

No injuries were reported, but neighbors said that the fire leaves a hole in their community.

"Some people can't drive, this is their grocery store, this is where they go to feed their family," said Lis Chapman.

Wave Transit said that they will offer residents options to find other grocery stores.

Investigators concluded that an electrical failure originating above the ceiling of the storage warehouse in the fascia board area at the front of the building sparked the fire. It was ruled accidental.

During Wednesday night's response, fire crews said that a fire hydrant broke while in use.

Cape Fear Public Utility Authority Spokesperson Peg Hall Williams said in an email that a utility services staff member was dispatched to the scene, and stayed on site for five hours at the request of the fire department.

Williams wrote that the hydrant was added to the repair list, but was not sure when it would be fixed.

"Depending on the kind of repair, they can repair one to ten a day. On days when they can only do one repair, it is usually a complete rebuild."

Wilmington Fire Marshal Chris Walker said in an email Thursday that Everybody's Supermarket was last inspected on April 13, 2016, and no violations were found. It was not due for another inspection until April 2019.

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