10 people displaced in WNC substance rehab facility fire


A fire destroyed a dormitory and displaced 10 people at a Western North Carolina substance abuse rehab facility.

It happened at the First Step Farm of Western North Carolina in Candler. 

“We’re very blessed,” said Executive Director Michael Plemmons. “This could have been a tragedy.” 

Plemmons says the fire broke out around 2 a.m. on Saturday. 

He says flames engulfed the building within minutes, with 10 people sleeping inside at the time. 

“Everybody made it out,” Plemmons told 7News. “No one was injured.” 

Plemmons says the fire alarms in the dorm and the fire drills that residents practice saved lives in this case. 

Firefighters, from several nearby agencies, fought the blaze for nearly an hour. 

Unfortunately, the dorm and everything inside was lost. 

“Most of our men come to us… they are homeless and indigent and don’t have a lot of belongings when they get here. So a lot of them have lost some things that can’t be replaced.” Craig White, Men’s Program Director, told 7News.

“But the farm is a facility of second chances, so we’ll just replace this sucker,” Plemmons said. 

Plemmons says the building was the first dorm built on the rehab facility campus. He says over the years it’s housed dozens of people working through substance abuse. Plemmons says it’s opened the door for counseling and work therapy through farming. 

“We have about a 65 percent success rate here,” he said. 

For now, those displaced have been moved to the second men’s dorm right next door. 

“We will rebuild,” White said. “We’ve been in this community since 1976. We are beloved by our community and well supported, so we will begin rebuilding and continue our mission to serve people with the disease of addiction.”

The cause of the fire is still under investigation according to the Buncombe County Fire Marshal. 

Plemmons says the building is insured, but the men who were displaced could benefit from clothing donations. 

Donations can be mailed to: 
First Step Farm of Western North Carolina 
P.O. Box 1450 
Candler, N.C. 28715

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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