CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WNCN) — The Charlotte Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), along with local and state investigators, have concluded that the cause of a massive fire at a QVC distribution center in December 2021 in Rocky Mount is undetermined.
“After a yearlong investigation, a team of very committed investigators representing ATF and area partners have listed the cause of this devastating fire as undetermined,” said ATF Special Agent in Charge Bennie Mims.
“Every angle was evaluated and all possible causes were investigated thoroughly. The primary goal is to find out if the cause is accidental, natural, or incendiary,” Mims said. “In the end, investigators found that there was not enough evidence to support an exact cause of the fire.”
On Dec. 18, 2021, multiple crews from six counties responded to a fire at 100 QVC Blvd. in Rocky Mount. The largest structural fire in state history claimed the life of employee Kevon Ricks and destroyed about 75% of the 1.5-million-square-foot facility, according to a news release Thursday from the ATF.
“We have met with the family of Mr. Ricks to discuss the work over the last year and the efforts made to bring the family closure,” said Edgecombe County Sheriff Clee Atkinson. “While a specific cause could not be found, we hope the Ricks’ family and everyone impacted by the fire knows that every effort was made and every resource was used to make sure this investigation was as thorough as possible.”
Even before QVC decided not to reopen the location, efforts began to help those left without employment and it paid off.
“Most of the people in Edgecombe and Nash County, which is our region, have found employment, which is good news,” said David Farris of the Rocky Mount Chamber of Commerce.
Farris believes financial aid provided by the community helped the unemployed workers by providing a cushion until they could be re-employed.
“We raised a lot of money and brought in a lot of resources,” he said. “People were generous, and we were able to support a lot of those families in addition to what QVC was doing.”
The investigation involved ATF’s National Response Team and area ATF Special Agents, along with the RMFD, the N.C. State Bureau of Investigation, the Edgecombe County Sheriff’s Office, the Edgecombe County Fire Marshal, and the N.C. Department of Insurance.
Investigators conducted 379 interviews with former employees and first responders. A tip line was established and a reward for information was offered to help gather information.
“While this investigation is considered complete, we’ll continue to maintain our tip line and encourage anyone with additional information to call in,” said Mims. “We appreciate the cooperation from the community over the last year and would welcome any new information that might impact our findings.”