By Tim Gardner
The Linville Mart Convenience Store located at 4141 Mitchell Avenue caught fire in the early morning of Tuesday, April 16.
According to Avery County Assistant Fire Marshall Paul Buchanan, a female employee observed smoke inside the store when she opened it for business at approximately 6:30 a.m.
The employee then called Avery 911 to report the blaze. Buchanan said the rush of oxygen from the door being open likely stoked the flames.
Buchanan said no one was injured in the fire, and that the building avoided heavy structural damage. However, he noted that the building did have interior smoke and heat damage. Buchanan said the fire was believed to be caused by a malfunctioning drink refrigerator. He added that the unit likely overheated and caused an electrical outlet to catch fire.
Linville, Newland, Crossnore and Banner Elk Volunteer Fire Departments responded to the fire, as did Avery Emergency Medical Services (EMS), the Fire Marshall’s office and the Avery Sheriff’s Department.
Buchanan also cited the Avery Communications Center for helping with the fire call.
The fire investigation is closed unless any new developments at the scene would cause it to be re-opened, Buchanan noted.
The fire marks the second time in only four months that the store suffered structural damage. When the county received approximately two feet of snow last December, the weight of around two feet of accumulating snow contributed to the collapsing of the canopy over the adjoining Citgo gas station and its pumps.
A local firefighter who was parked under the canopy narrowly evaded its debris as it fell atop his vehicle.