Fire department putting out hot spots at Stahl-Urban, blaze at pellet mill contained

Published 3:55 pm Wednesday, February 28, 2024

By Hunter Cloud and Brett Campbell

The Daily Leader

BROOKHAVEN — Fire Chief Jeff Ainsworth said the Brookhaven Fire Department is still putting out hot spots flaring up at the former Stahl-Urban building Wednesday. A Monday night fire destroyed the old warehouse on Main Street in Brookhaven.. 

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Ainsworth said the State Fire Marshall will be in Brookhaven to investigate the fire Thursday. An ember from the Stahl Urban fire traveled about half a mile and started a fire a the Rex Lumber Pellet Mill. Fire Information for Resource Management Systems, or FIRMS, is still detecting a fire near the pellet mill. 

“It will just have to burn out,” Ainsworth said. “It is contained but there is no way to put it out.” 

The Mississippi Forestry Commission used a dozer to create a fire break around the fire at the pellet mill. The fire is off of WL Behan Road across the street from Great Southern Wood Brookhaven Inc. Rex Lumber issued a statement Wednesday stating the Brookhaven location  “Sits safe and protected thanks to the vigilance of our local fire departments.” 

Stahl-Urban burns

A Lincoln County deputy spotted the flames toward the northeast corner of the building and called it in at 6:25 p.m. Monday, and then the calls started flooding in, officials said. The fire moved quickly, sweeping through the structure, feeding on heart pine and birdseye maple floors.

Though the city’s fire department responded quickly, there was no saving the historic landmark where hundreds of residents had worked in its four-plus decades of producing military uniforms, as well as pants, shirts and jackets.

Hog Chain Volunteer Fire Department was dispatched to the fire at 6:31 p.m. Monday and soon other volunteer fire departments arrived on scene to assist Brookhaven Fire Department. 

Ainsworth said the blaze was the largest square-footage fire he had ever worked — more than 20,000 square feet.

Just one year earlier ­— on Feb. 26, 2023 — fire ripped through and destroyed the Brookwood Apartment Complex on East Chippewa Street, resulting in two deaths. As far as fire and safety officials knew Tuesday morning, no one had been inside the Stahl-Urban building when it burned, and no injuries were sustained by anyone who responded to the blaze.

Ainsworth said crews worked throughout the night to contain the fire, keeping it from spreading to nearby structures.

The remains of Stahl-Urban were still hot Wednesday, Ainsworth said. Later, firefighters will look through the debris to ensure no one had been inside during the blaze.

“It’s too hot for us to get in there, still,” Ainsworth said Tuesday. “But once it’s cool enough, we’ll go through and search the area.”