Editor’s note: One person died in the fire on Friday, according to media reports this afternoon. As autopsy results come in, emergency officials will release the identity of the deceased.
By Jesse Wood
Valle Landing, a mixed-use building in Valle Crucis, burned to the ground on Friday morning.
One person was flown to Johnson City with life-threatening injuries and another has been confirmed dead as of this afternoon., according to Watauga County Assistant Fire Marshal Taylor Marsh.
The call of the fire came in at 5:40 a.m. Marsh said that six people were living in the apartments at the time. A family of four survived. Marsh said authorities believe the person unaccounted for is a tenant, but they aren’t sure yet.
Marsh didn’t release any details – ages, gender, names – of the tenants.
“The building is a total loss. It pretty much burned to the ground,” Marsh said.
The State Bureau of Investigation is already on the way. Marsh said this is standard procedure considering all of the following factors: the size and total loss of the commercial building, the unaccounted for individual and person with life-threatening injuries.
Authorities won’t even begin investigating until the area cools off a bit. Marsh said that although the fire is under control, “it’s still too hot right now.”
As the fire escalated, Watauga County Communications tweeted that the “structure fire is very large with personnel trapped” and asked folks avoid the area. Watauga County Communications also tweeted, “Now a seven alarm fire at Valle Crucis. Praying for the emergency personnel on scene and victims.”
At about 9 a.m., Watauga County Communications noted that all fire and EMS personnel are accounted for at Valle Landing.
One of the tenants at Valle Landing is Bald Guy Brew Coffee Roasting Company. Cox posted a photo on Facebook with the caption: “I really don’t even know what to say. The building I rented burnt down this morning. We are safe. Time to start over.”
Additional commercial businesses in Valle Landing at 3657 N.C. 194 South are Valle Crucis Bakery and Café, and Valle Crucis Log Cabin Rentals.
Valle Crucis Elementary School is right next door. Watauga County Schools Supt. Scott Elliott tweeted out this morning: “Thankful for recent rain that protected the @ValleCrucisSch roof from the horrible fire. Prayers for all affected.”
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