LEXINGTON, N.C. -- Smoke and flames could be seen from blocks away as the old Dixie Furniture plant which employed thousands of people over decades burned down Tuesday.
"It's devastating," said former worker James Aiken. "This plant had been out here for a long time and seeing it go up in smoke is amazing. We shared a lot of times in this plant together."
The fire started at about 2 a.m. Tuesday and crews believed they had extinguished it, but the fire rekindled around 5 p.m., according to Lexington Mayor Newell Clark. The plant is located between Elk and South Railroad streets.
Many of those former workers gathered near the fire Tuesday night, taking pictures and remembering the 10 to 20 years they spent making furniture there.
“I worked here for 21 years," said Curtis McDuffie, a former employee. "It's a little sad to see the plant go."
The plant opened in the early 1900s, later becoming Lexington Furniture.
Officials say it shut down operations 10 to 15 years ago.
“This plant was like the main job security around here and after it went down, everything started going downhill,” Aiken said.
Although it's been years since some of the former workers have been inside, they still hope that all hasn't been lost and that a part of the city's history can be saved.
“I hope the city has plans to do something with this spot, build something there that can help the people in Lexington,” McDuffie said.
The fire is contained but encompasses a large area.
No injuries have been reported.