An early morning fire in Lynchburg destroyed a popular hobby and collectibles shop on Saturday, January 26. The fire started shortly after 4 a.m. at Collectors Lair, located on Fort Avenue.
Owner James Lair was preparing to leave after working late at the store when the fire began, according to WSET-TV 13. Lair called 911 after he smelled smoke and heard crackling noises coming from the basement.
Firefighters reported with two ladder trucks and four engines to fight the fire. Saturday morning's frigid temperatures warmed up as the sun came out.
Lair has been in business for 25 years and moved to the current Fort Avenue location in 2002. Generations of Lynchburg children knew the store as Continental Hobby Center. For many years, adults and kids of all ages raced slot cars on the tracks at Continental Hobby.
Continental Hobby Center expanded over the years to include arts and craft supplies, model cars, and model railroad trains, scenery and parts.
Many of the older people watching as the store burned shared memories of racing cars at Continental Hobby. Onlookers gathered on both sides of Fort Avenue and drivers slowed to look as they drove past the fire.
In recent years, Collectors Lair has been the place to go for comics, collectible figures, Pokemon, Star Trek and other memorabilia, sports cards, and a large collection of DVDs and video games. In addition to serving local collectors, Collectors Lair sold items on eBay.
Firefighters were forced to work the fire from outside the building due to the amount of material which had ignited inside. The black smoke was visible from a distance all day on Saturday.
Late in the afternoon, the fire was contained enough for firefighters to enter the store. Firefighters remained on site at the gutted store after the sun went down on Saturday.
Excavation equipment was being used late on Saturday afternoon to tear down portions of the building's walls. The cause of the fire is unknown at this time.