One year later, no arrest in Thomas Furniture fire

New Albany MS top 2019 news stories Thomas Furniture fire involved accelerant
A massive fire raged out of control early Wednesday morning, June 26th at the Thomas Wholesale Furniture (formerly Piper) building.
June 16th, 2020     Featured News General News

In two weeks it will a year since an early morning fire June 26 destroyed the former Piper Impact building on Hwy. 15 North that housed Thomas Wholesale Furniture and a warehouse for Master-Bilt Refrigeration Solutions products.

Although the state fire marshal’s office declared the fire to be incendiary in nature, no one has been charged and local fire officials say they have heard nothing lately about the fire other than it remains under investigation.

The fire was reported about 1:30 a.m. and engulfed the entire massive building. When the fire was first seen flames were already coming through the roof and out building openings.

All city and county departments responded, getting the blaze mostly under control by daylight. However, due to the extent of the fire and size of the buildings, they continued to pour water on the smoldering ruins throughout the day, shuttling tanker trucks back and forth for refills.

No one was reported injured but virtually all the contents of the main buildings were destroyed.

The building first housed NIMCOR, or National Impact Metal Corporation, which later became Piper Industries and then Metal Impact. The company is now on Sam Tom Barkley Drive.

NIMCOR was one of several industries constructed along Hwy. 15 in conjunction with the state’s Balance Agriculture With Industry program that started in the late 1950s.

At the time of the fire, the front part of the 14-acre property was home to Thomas Wholesale Furniture, owned by Steven Thomas, who had been an Ashley Furniture dealer. Thomas also had a retail store, Tallahatchie Living, in downtown New Albany but it had closed by the time of the blaze.

The fire spread from the front of the building to the back that housed Master-Bilt’s inventory of newly-manufactured refrigeration equipment and some company records.

The back part of the building used by Master-Bilt was owned by Jasper Creek LLC of Tupelo and principal Randy Cobb, according to company personnel.

The front part of the building was technically owned by the Third Supervisor’s District of Union County because of the long-forgotten original B.A.W.I. funding. The Third District was listed as owner because this was before Union County switched to the unit system of government, but in reality the plant was Piper’s due to a long-term lease with the company to take over at the conclusion.

Other smaller businesses were housed in the buildings in addition to the furniture dealer.

During the past year the massive amount of wreckage has mostly been cleared with some of the damaged structures salvaged for use. A northern section of the buildings sustained little damage in the first place.

Most of the cleaned area was covered in steel girders and collapsed, melted roofing.

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