Fire that destroyed Rives Theatre accidental

MARNTINVILLE, Va. – A fire that destroyed the 90-year-old Rives Theatre in Uptown Martinsville was accidental in nature.

That’s the conclusion of the Martinsville Fire and EMS.

Martinsville’s fire chief estimates the blaze had been burning unchecked for about an hour when discovered last Sunday. Flames were shooting from the roof of the building when the first units arrived just after 8:30 p.m. on September 8. An interior attack was too dangerous and two ladder trucks pumped water on the flames from above. Firefighters were on scene for about 6 hours and prevented flames from spreading to nearby businesses.

Investigators believe the fire started in an upstairs room, where two refrigerators were plugged into a single surge protector.

There were no injuries but the historic building was gutted.