CONCORD, NC (WBTV) - A large fire on Tuesday destroyed a building, a medical transport van for veterans, and a memorial wall with the names of all Cabarrus County soldiers killed in combat since World War I.
The fire broke out around 4 p.m. on the 2400 block of Rock Hill Church Road near Highway 29. Officials say an abandoned shed behind the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) building was destroyed. A DAV Transportation Network van stored inside the shed, used to transport veterans to medical appointments, was also destroyed.
A spokesperson for the DAV told WBTV that they were contacting local veterans to "unfortunately let them know our volunteers will not be able to transport them to and from medical appointments at the present."
The spokesperson said that while there is "no clear estimate yet on the damage costs," the news "is a major blow to those veterans who rely on DAV for their medical transportation."
"After being around this and all of a sudden it's gone," said Charles Billing, DAV Chapter 27 Adjutant. "You're used to the chapter helping someone everyday, and then we can't help."
Leaders say some wheelchairs were also lost. The DAV doesn't charge disabled veterans for transport. Leaders say they do fundraising so they can help. They say the fire left them helpless and hurting.
A veterans memorial - a wall that honored Cabarrus County soldiers who died while serving – also went up in flames.
"It's not something you can put a monetary value on. I mean, especially that wall - that was names back to World War I," Chapter Commander Ken Bratton said. "There's no way to retrieve all that. It's just something that's gone."
Leaders say the chapter has been helping veterans since 1948. They're hoping insurance will help, but it was an old van so they're not expecting to get a lot of money for it.
Investigators have not said what may have caused the fire, but say no one was injured in the fire. They said they have no reason to suspect arson, but will be reviewing security footage to get a better idea of what happened.