Sadness In Surry

Yesterday afternoon, as Motor Man and I started home across the James River Bridge from Newport News, he spotted a huge plume of black smoke in the distance. Immediately, he said that it appeared to be in the area of Surry, the adjacent county to where we live – and my “home” county.

A few minutes later, I received a text from a close friend, a former co-worker of mine at a small processing plant, famous for its cured hams, bacon and sausage.   Her text was brief:
Have you u heard the plant is on fire

As usual, Motor Man’s sense of direction was correct: the fire was in Surry.

Later in the day, as soon as time permitted, Motor Man and I traveled the twenty miles to Surry. We just needed to be with our friend. She, like some of the other employees, had been sitting in their vehicles across the street from the plant since it had been evacuated around lunchtime.

In spite of nearly a dozen fire departments on the scene, the building was still burning three hours after the fire began. At times, the smoke nearly obscured the late afternoon sun.

Particularly emotional for me was seeing the office area in flames.

flames 1-19-2016 4-26-44 PM

Although mine was an office job, one of my duties was conducting tours of the plant for visitors. I explained to them the curing process and showed them the various rooms where the steps involved in that process took place.

black smoke 1-19-2016 4-01-43 PM

I also shared with them the history of the company, how it began in 1926 and still remained a family business. During the time I worked there, it was operated by the third generation. Currently, the fourth generation also plays a major role.  The company is well known, not only for its local wholesale and retail business, but also for its far-reaching mail order (internet) sales.

My heart is broken for the family, whom I’ve known since my childhood, my friends who work there, and all the employees who are without jobs right now. Everyone is just so thankful there were no injuries.

Hopefully, the business is able to be rebuilt soon and be greater than ever.

~These Days Of Mine~


15 responses to “Sadness In Surry

  1. Beautifully written with sensitivity for the family and employees, of which you were one at one time. You can tell you were impacted by this terrible loss. Edwards is an icon to the community, to us and our parents, who would also be very sad to hear this. Your pictures, despite the subject matter, we’re clear and very good, showing the angry fury of that fire that continued to ravage into the night. Glad you were there for our friend.

  2. What a loss for the Edwards family and for the community. I’m so very thankful that no one was hurt and add my prayers for those whose jobs are impacted. It would be wonderful to see the business rise from those ashes.

  3. It is very sad that a business that has obviously been a part of the community for so long has been destroyed. It’s good to know that nobody was hurt and hopefully they will be able to rebuild.

  4. Oh my goodness, my heart goes out to them all.

  5. A fire can destroy everything but memories. Glad you have some good ones.

  6. Very sad for the family, workers, and the whole town but thank heavens nobody was hurt. Hopefully rebuilding is definitely in the works. The comment above is apt……the fire destroyed everything but the memories.


  7. So glad no lives were lost. Buildings and businesses can be rebuilt. We know from experience that fire is devastating. It’s the history that is lost that is so sad and the jobs that people need to survive. I hope insurance takes care of those things.

  8. Which plant was this in Surry? Only one I can think of is Smithfield Hams. There wasn’t any injuries were there?

  9. Between having the flu last weekend, learning of the loss of a former neighbor from Dendron on Sunday, and then this I’m in somewhat of an emotional turmoil. We know many of the family members, one of them a former classmate, so we know what an exemplary, caring, hard-working family they are. This is heartbreaking.

    But I have been hearing and seeing their brand more and more in ads that are seen not only locally but all across the country. They are touted by many restaurants, B&B’s, and people all across our great nation!

    We all stand by you, Edwards Virginia Smokehouse.

  10. So sad. Such an iconic location that just seemed to have always been there… & they had some of the best ham you’d ever eat. Surry will never be the same..

  11. Oh no–what a sad thing and how heartbreaking to see the place that held so much history for so many people. It is such a hard thing when something like this happens in a small community but hopefully things will work out to rebuild and folks will be able to rally around. Thinking of you all during this time of sadness.

  12. Shirley Matthews Dunn

    I have such good memories of Diane Johnson Price( granddaugher of Mr Edwards Sr who began the company) we were good friend and played in the field between her home and the Edwards Ham Company. We wouldl get as close to the plant as we could without getting in trouble. The Johnson’s and the Edwards’s have always been a big asset to Surry and
    it’s growth My love and prayers go out to all the family and employees. The Lord will bring you back stronger than ever. ❤

  13. Devastating. So sorry to see this, but thankful all are safe.

  14. That’s so sad. Praying for the family and the employees.

  15. Very sad. Thankful no one was hurt or lost. I hope they get back up and running again. It sounds like it was a well respected company and a treasure in your area. Truly sad for the employees without their jobs now and the loss of the building and all the equipment.

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