Intense fire at abandoned Virginia warehouse has multiple fire crews battling blaze

By KBJR News 1

March 16, 2014 Updated Mar 16, 2014 at 10:42 PM CDT

Virginia, MN (NNCNOW.com) - Eleven Iron Range fire departments battled smoke and flames at the abandoned Staver Foundry warehouse in Virginia for several hours Sunday afternoon.

The former Staver Foundry building was once a booming business on the Iron Range, but on Sunday the building went up in flames.

"We were contacted about three this afternoon for a fire, heavy smoke coming out of the eves of the Staver Foundry," said Virginia Fire Chief Dan Lallier at the scene. "There was no one in the building so we have been in defensive mode since the beginning of it."

Chief Lallier says the roof of the building collapsed on top of the fire, making it a long process to extinguish.

As former Staver employee Patrick Moilan watched fire crews battle the smoke and flames he remembered the building when it was in its prime.

"The place did business with the mining companies making wear resistant castings," said Moilan, "I worked in the core room making the molds and they were filled up with Iron to make the castings."

Moilan spent 30 years at Staver and was one of the last employees left when it went bankrupt in 2006 and had to close.

The city of Virginia purchased the seven acres of land on which the foundry sits in 2012.

"From what the paper says they plan on redeveloping it with other businesses...it's a prime area and the building is of no use anymore," said Moilan.

...and even less so now. Officials say the building was slated for demolition.

The State Fire Marshal is still investigating the cause of the blaze.

Kati Anderson