For the third time in less than 13 months, a massive fire has destroyed a large warehouse at American Furniture in Pontotoc County, but this time a possible arson suspect is being questioned by authorities.
Pontotoc County Sheriff Leo Mask said around 5 p.m. that a man was taken into custody near the scene of the fire and is being questioned as a person of interest in connection with the fire.
At 6 p.m. Thursday, firefighters from the Pontotoc Fire Department and volunteer departments throughout Pontotoc County were still on the scene fighting the the blaze, which American Furniture employees discovered around 3:30 p.m.
Employees said that fires were actually discovered in two warehouses on the property.
Employees were able to extinguish the fire in one of the warehouses, and several damaged pieces of furniture were dragged outside the building. But a second fire was then discovered in the warehouse, which was destroyed by the fire.
Plant officials said that an estimated 5,000 pieces of finished furniture were destroyed in the fire.
Firefighters fought vigorously to contain the fire, but those efforts were foiled by winds gusting 15 to 20 mph, and the enormous amount of furniture that the fire had to fed off of.
Several officers from the State Fire Marshal’s Office were also on the scene talking with Sheriff Mask. Officers could be seen questioning plant employees regarding who and what they saw when the fire was discovered.
Only one fire hydrant is on the industrial park property, and fire trucks were constantly shuttling water to the portable water tanks erected on site.
American Furniture officials said no employees were injured in the fire.
Before Thursday's fire, the most recent fire occurred on October 13, 2018, when more than 125,000 square feet of building space was destroyed.
That October 2018 fire was ruled arson, and a reward of $15,000 was posted for information on that fire, but no arrests were made.
Back on January 5, 2018, a fire destroyed almost 400,000 square feet of warehouse, sewing production and product development space at American Furniture. The cause of that January 2018 fire is still unknown.
The same American Furniture plant was heavily damaged by a fire back in February 2008.
American Furniture rebounded from all three of those fires, resuming production in a matter of weeks in undamaged space and utilizing satellite buildings in Sherman and other nearby locations.
On September 26, 2018, a huge fire destroyed almost 70 percent of Washington Furniture, located on Stafford Boulevard in Pontotoc.
That fire was also ruled arson and a $20,000 reward was offered for information on persons responsible. That investigation is ongoing.