Investigation ongoing for Manns Harbor warehouse fire; huge loss for two local businesses

Published 7:58 am Thursday, February 29, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

A catastrophic warehouse fire in Manns Harbor took place Tuesday, February 27, 2024. An investigation is currently ongoing as to the cause of the fire. Both Manteo Furniture and Appliance and Valentino Custom Boats were occupying around 30,000 sq. ft. of the complex – the former in a 20,000 sq. ft. building and the later in a roughly 10,000 sq. ft. building – and have suffered a great loss as a result of the event. No employees, residents or firefighters were reported injured. Every fire department in Dare County was involved, either having worked to battle the fire or stepping in as back-up to ensure no call went unanswered.

Drew Pearson, Dare County emergency management director, said the initial call about the fire came in around 3:15 p.m. on Tuesday. First responders were on scene until almost midnight, and returned every couple of hours after to keep an eye on the site. “It was an all hands on deck effort to be sure that not only the fire in Manns Harbor was dealt with as quickly as possible, but that all departments had the back-up they needed as well,” Pearson said. He reported that the county fire marshal was on scene Wednesday afternoon with investigators.

The Manns Harbor Fire Department and Roanoke Island Volunteer Fire Department were the first responders on scene. They were met with clouds of black smoke rising out of the part of the building where Manteo Furniture and Appliance had housed upholstery and casegoods. “It took a lot,” Lieutenant Brian Sikes with Manns Harbor Fire Department said on Wednesday, almost 24 hours after the initial call came in. “We have to fight the wind a lot here, especially with something like this.” Sikes said there was a large loss of property, but the wind was not bringing the fire back towards surrounding residential homes. The fire had spread to adjacent sheds and a barn to the north side of the property, all of which experienced damage.

Get the latest headlines sent to you

“Two families were displaced for the night due to proximity to the fire as a precaution,” stated county fire marshal Steve Kovacs.

{Danielle Puleo video}

Ken Daniels, of Manteo Furniture and Appliance, shared that one of his employees received a text from his daughter who lives in Manns Harbor about the fire when it began. He reported that one of his employees was on site at the time of the event. “We’ve already rented another warehouse and have merchandise coming as quickly as possible,” Daniels told The Coastland Times. Casegoods such as bedroom and dining room furniture shouldn’t take long to come in, where specific upholstery may be delayed, he explained. Having served with a fire department for 30 years himself, Daniels was appreciative of the fire crews’ efforts. “It’s a sad feeling for me to know that they had to do all that.”

The owner of Valentino Custom Boats, Manuel Estrella, was distraught over the loss his business has now experienced. Tools, parts, materials and custom-built boats were destroyed in the fire, one of which Estrella’s crew had been working on for two years and had just finished. He was on site at the time of the fire and was thankful for his employees and members of the community who helped him save as much as he could. “We lost one hundred percent of our tools inside. I guess the next step is to find a way to continue working as best as we can. My guys are safe and that’s what matters.”

{Danielle Puleo video}

Estrella shared that he was able to save video footage of the fire from security cameras and has been in touch with investigators who are looking into the cause. More information will be provided once a full report is released and the investigation is complete.

According to officials, the following agencies responded to the fire: Manns Harbor VFD, Roanoke Island VFD, Stumpy Point VFD, Nags Head Fire & Rescue, Kill Devil Hills Fire & Rescue, Kitty Hawk Fire & Rescue, Southern Shores VFD, Duck Fire & Rescue, Chicamacomico Banks VFD, Avon VFD, Buxton VFD, Frisco VFD, Hatteras VFD, Tyrrell County VFD, Corolla VFD/Currituck County Fire & Rescue, Dare County EMS, Dare County Sheriff’s Office, Currituck County EMS, North Carolina Forestry, North Carolina Highway Patrol, Dare County Emergency Management and Dare County Fire Marshal’s Office.

{Danielle Puleo video}


Massive fire guts Manns Harbor warehouse: ‘It’s a very sad day’