Cause of flea market fire still 'undetermined' as burned-out businesses vow to reopen

Clean up underway after fire at flea market

VALDESE, NC (WBTV) - When Charles Bradshaw noticed smoke rising from one of the buildings at the I-40 Flea Market near Valdese Sunday, he knew it was trouble.

"All those buildings are made of wood and could burn up in a hurry," he said on Monday.

As he called 911, flames 20 feet high were already through the roof. Firefighters arrived quickly and, while they could not save the section that was on fire, they did keep the flames from spreading very far.

Janet King's shop at the market was just 50 feet away but was spared by what the firefighters did.

"They were super," she said.

David McMahan's sporting goods shop was not so lucky. Everything inside it was destroyed.

"About $8,000 worth," he said.

Fortunately, he says, he had left the scene an hour before and had taken the most valuable items with him. That means he will be able to get back into business soon, he hopes.

McMahan is not sure about some of his neighbors who lost everything in the fire, though.

"No one had insurance," he explained. "We can't get it."

Fire investigators say the blaze began in or near a trash can, but they have not been able to pinpoint the ignition source. For now, the cause is ruled as "undetermined."

No one was hurt in the fire. All the customers had left and vendors had closed up shop for the day when the fire broke out.

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