Fire that destroyed The Cotton Gin ruled undetermined


CURRITUCK COUNTY, N.C. (WAVY) — Fire investigators haven’t been able to determine what caused the fire that wiped out at a well-known shop frequented by visitors on their way to the Outer Banks.

Several agencies conducted an investigation on October 13, a day after the blaze at The Cotton Gin, but the cause was ruled undetermined due to the extent of the damage.

The family that’s owned the business for decades says it plans to rebuild.


CURRITUCK, N.C. (WAVY) — If you’ve driven to the Outer Banks, no doubt you passed “The Cotton Gin.” It had a little bit of everything.

But now, the images you see are painting a picture of destruction from a fast-moving fire.

“The Cotton Gin” has been the Wright family business for decades, but after that massive fire on Saturday, all that’s left is rubble and debris. The family says they’re grateful for the community support and now they hope to rebuild.

The fire broke out on Saturday afternoon.

“I ran out of my house, didn’t even have my phone,” said owner Tom Wright. “I ran across the field, immediately she tried to look and make sure people were out of the building.”

Wright tried to help as he watched his family’s business go up in flames.

“It was like we couldn’t get it out,” he said.

Firefighters battled the blaze for hours. They couldn’t save the building, but their persistence didn’t go unnoticed.

“I want those people to know that, from our family to theirs, we really appreciate it,” Wright said.

The building started as a cotton gin in the 1920s. Tom’s parents bought it in the 1950s, opening a farmers market and country store in the 60s. In the 70s, he took it over, laying the groundwork for the store many people know and love.

“I think it’s had a lot of impacts because it’s touched so many people and they were part of our family and we were part of their family and I think that’s probably some of what is really affecting people,” Wright said.

While the store changed throughout the years, the soul of it never did. That’s why people keep stopping by, saying hi to the family, snapping pictures to remember the good times.

“Our whole family is thankful for the kind words and the messages and every time somebody slows down as they pass by and we wave,” said Tom’s son, John. “Currituck is still like that.”

As for what’s next, the family says they want to rebuild.

John said, “I’d love to rebuild it. I think they would too. That’s what you want to see. It’s just, it took like 90 years to get there.”

For now, they will take it day by day and with the community behind them, they will keep moving forward.

“We’re going to try to pick up the pieces and do what we can to see if we can put it back together,” Tom said.

The family says there is still a lot of clean up to do.

The cause is still under investigation.


CURRITUCK COUNTY, N.C. (WAVY) — A popular gift shop and market store in Jarvisburg was destroyed by a massive fire on Saturday afternoon.

The Cotton Gin, located in the 6000 block of Caratoke Highway, caught on fire around 1:40 p.m., according to the Deputy Chief Hayden Poulin with the Lower Currituck Volunteer Fire Department.

Video from Facebook user Alex Butler shows wild flames and clouds of smoke engulfing the store as firefighters worked to put it out.

Poulin says the bulk of the fire was knocked down by 8 p.m., but units were still on the scene.

A portion of Caratoke Highway is closed as crews continue to work and motorists are being detoured to Grandy Road.

Officials say there were no injuries reported from the fire as of 8 p.m. The cause is under investigation.

The store is described as having a market-style layout with clothing, accessories and fresh produce and has been a “vacation landmark” for families visiting the Outer Banks for more than 85 years, according to their website.

There are three other Cotton Gin store locations along the Outer Banks: one in Corolla, one in Duck and one in Nags Head.

According to Cotton Gin’s website, the Jarvisburg location is the original shop that started off as a general store in the 1960s.


CURRITUCK, N.C. (WAVY) — A store in Currituck caught fire on Saturday afternoon.

The Cotton Gin, located in the 6000 block of Caratoke Highway, reportedly went up in flames around 1:38 p.m.

According to Currituck emergency communications, first responders were still on scene at 2:50 p.m.

The store is described as having a market-style layout with clothing, accessories and fresh produce.

10 On Your Side is working to learn if anyone was hurt and what started the fire.

This is a breaking news story.

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