VFW rebuilding plans on hold after fire

Aerial units from Warren County, Strasburg, and Stephens City attack the roof area of the Front Royal VFW Post 1860 on North Royal Avenue during the July 11 fire. Rich Cooley/Daily

The future location of VFW Post 1860 in Front Royal remains uncertain more than two weeks after a fire destroyed its headquarters building at 1847 N. Royal Ave.

Rebuilding plans are on hold until an investigation into the cause of the fire is completed. In the meantime, the post has been holding meetings at the town’s American Legion Post 53.

Post commander Chuck Midkiff said his organization expects to rebuild but it may require moving from the current site on the Shenandoah River floodplain.

“We expect to build somewhere,” Midkiff said. “We’ll keep that property. We won’t get rid of it but we may not be able to build anything on it.”

Fire department officials estimate damage from the fire on July 11 may have reached $500,000. Midkiff said the building was insured and representatives from the company were “pretty quick” to visit the scene and assess the damage.

Fire Marshal Gerry Maiatico said the cause of the fire remains under investigation and is undetermined so far.

“We’re still working it as a joint investigation with the Front Royal police,” Maiatico said.

Fire department officials said someone reported a trash can fire at the scene before firefighters were dispatched. The fire quickly spread inside the walls, ceiling, attic and roof before the building collapsed.

“It was fully engulfed when I got the call to go there,” Midkiff said of the burning building. “Yes, it was a shock.”

Midkiff said the oldest parts of the building date back to pre-Civil War days. Several additions have been built over the years.

Midkiff said the building location on the floodplain may run into town land use restrictions that would prevent a new structure from being built at the current site.

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com