Fire damages gaming center, but operations go on

Abingdon, Virginia – Randy Callahan let out a sigh as he surveyed smoke damage Wednesday at the Appalachian Event and Gaming Center in Abingdon, Virginia.

“It’s just a mess,” said Callahan, the center’s director. “The entire rear of the building was damaged by smoke.”

Sometime before 11 p.m. Tuesday, a fire broke out in the center’s heating system, Callahan said.

“Apparently, the fire has been going on for a long time,” he said.

Firefighters in the Abingdon and Meadowview divisions fought the blaze for several hours as Tuesday melted into Wednesday, eventually ending around 1:30 a.m., Callahan said.

“This place was completely engulfed when we got here last night,” said Callahan. “It was completely engulfed in flames and smoke.”

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On Wednesday, the center resumed operations for that night’s bingo game, as did food distribution at the Virginia Ballroom.

On Thursday, Callahan said the center has full intentions of offering “Meals on Wheels”-style food delivery to Washington County residents.

Still, Callahan kept busy day and night, dealing with smoke damage at the center and talking to inspectors and insurance officials.

“It’s not like the entire back half of the building has power,” Callahan said.

On Wednesday afternoon, the smell of smoke was lingering.

“It will probably cost about $500,000 to restore it,” Callahan said.

This includes HVAC system replacement, ceiling replacement, room cleaning, and furniture replacement.

Callahan pointed to the charred remains of the HVAC system.

“Probably frozen,” he said. “It has melted into the ground and cannot be repaired.”

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