Latest Accomack Fire Strikes A Local Landmark - 47 ABC - Delmarva's Choice

Latest Accomack Fire Strikes A Local Landmark

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TASLEY, Va. - The number of arsons in Accomack County now stands at 66 since November. The latest fire is the most shocking, so far – a local landmark consumed by flames.

The Whispering Pines motel is now just a pile of rubble, ash and a few fluttering flames – the result of a raging inferno the night before.

Charlie Russell's grandfather built the motel back in 1932. It was a family operated business until 1972. Since then, it's gone through several different owners, but for the past 10 years, it stood abandoned until now.

"It's been a central part of our family history for a long time. So it was very difficult to see it in flames. For many years this was the economic and social center of the family. We all worked here," Russell said.

Russell says the motel attracted people from all over the east coast. Its restaurant was known for some of the best clam chowder on the Eastern Shore. With more than 70 rooms, it attracted some of the biggest celebrities.

"Walter Kronkite stopped by, and we've had Diana Ross. I was thinking about the good times we used to have here, and I was thinking about the good food, and just the things that I enjoyed as a youngster.  It's gotten run down over the years. It was in very, very bad shape and it was time for it to go," Russell said.

But speaking of time, it's running out for fire fighters. Volunteer crews not only fight fires, but exhaustion. Of the 66 arsons, the Tasley Fire Department has been to at least 40 of them. This motel fire kept crews up until 5:30 AM - more than 8 hours after they arrived to the scene the night before.

Despite rumors circulating, Virginia State Police confirmed no arrests have been made in relation to the arson investigations.

A $25,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the Accomack arsonist or other arson copy-cat suspects still stands. Anyone with information can call or text the tip line at 757-655-1437.

For a full list of arsons, click here

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