Police investigate after 400 people attend party in vacant warehouse

Credit: Henry County Sheriff's Office (Facebook)
Credit: Henry County Sheriff's Office (Facebook) (Copyright by WSLS - All rights reserved)

HENRY COUNTY (WSLS 10) - The Henry County Sheriff's Office is warning the public about the danger of holding parties at abandoned factories after receiving various tips from the community.

In a statement posted on Facebook, Sheriff Lane Perry said his office is cracking down on parties in vacant county buildings.

In the post, Perry said on Dec. 11, 2015 the sheriff's office, the Virginia State Police and Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control responded to a party at one of the leased warehouse spaces at the Stanley Furniture property along Fairystone Park Highway.

According to Perry, there were about 400 people attending a party at this location.

The sheriff's office said they're still trying to determine whether or not the party attendees had been given permission to use the space or whether they were trespassing. In either case, they said the party would have been in violation of occupancy codes, and very dangerous.

They said many of these buildings have sub-par lighting and poorly marked exits.

The greatest danger is fire, police say.

The sheriff's office was quick to point out the fire that occurred at the former American Furniture Warehouse last year. To this day, the cause of the fire remains elusive.

Police said when old buildings, like the former American Furniture Warehouse, catch fire - they burn fast. They said over decades the wooden parts of these structures have absorbed lacquers, finishes, oils and stains, a cocktail of chemicals that will eventually turn a wooden beam into "the world's largest Roman candle."

When coupled with poor lighting and inadequately marked fire exits, the results could easily be catastrophic, police say.

The Henry County Sheriff's Office said they're hoping property owners make sure any vacant properties in their possession are locked tight and secured against trespassers.

No charges have been filed yet in the most recent incident.

If you know any information regarding these incidents, you're asked to call the Henry County Sheriff's Office at (276) 656-4200.