Strat­egy un­der­way to re­build Bos­ton plant de­stroyed by mas­sive fire

Rappahannock News - - FRONT PAGE - By JoHn Mc­caslin Rap­pa­han­nock News staff

A multi-alarm fire dis­cov­ered late Satur­day night that burned well into Sun­day has de­stroyed the Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Cor­po­ra­tion of Amer­ica (CCA) print­ing plant just over the Rap­pa­han­nock County line in Bos­ton.

The good news is plans are al­ready un­der­way to re­build while keep­ing as many of the CCA’s 300plus em­ploy­ees as pos­si­ble work­ing in the process, per­haps in an off-site fa­cil­ity.

More than 200 fire­fight­ers from nearly three-dozen re­spond­ing fire depart­ments, in­clud­ing ev­ery vol­un­teer com­pany in Rap­pa­han­nock, bat­tled what re­sem­bled a rag­ing in­ferno against a dark­ened sky.

The fire, the cause of which re­mains un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion, burned so hot that metal por­tions of the struc­ture ei­ther dis­in­te­grated or melted. For­tu­nately, no ma­jor in­juries were re­ported. All day Sun­day a tow­er­ing plume of smoke was vis­i­ble from miles away. Rap­pah-

an­nock County real­tor Tr­ish Bartholomew said she could see and smell the smoke from Sky­line Drive.

“It’s gone, noth­ing left,” said one down­cast CCA em­ployee, his head low­ered to the ground as he walked through the thick smoke back to his car early Sun­day morn­ing.

In an in­ter­view Mon­day morn­ing ahead of an ur­gent work­force meet­ing in Culpeper, the CCA’s owner and president Steven Fisher told this news­pa­per that he and his team were al­ready “work­ing on a strat­egy to­wards get­ting ev­ery­thing re­placed.”

“The good news is we have a lot of money through our in­sur­ance com­pany,” Fisher dis­closed, adding that “mil­lions of dol­lars worth of equip­ment” was de­stroyed. The large ware­house-style build­ing had no sprin­kler sys­tem.

“Did you see the black plume of smoke?” he asked. “It was just aw­ful. It re­sem­bled a dark cloud. I’ve never seen any­thing like it in my life.”

Nor had a Culpeper County Vol­un­teer Fire spokesman reached on Tues­day. “I have never seen a fire like that,” he said, adding the cause re­mains un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

The CCA and the stately Lon­glea Con­fer­ence Cen­ter, a Catholic Church re­treat, share the same brick en­trance off of Sper­ryville Pike Route 522. In­stead of an in­dus­trial set­ting, what still stands of the plant is sur­rounded by rolling green hills where pri­vate hunt­ing in­vi­ta­tions have been ex­tended by the CCA.

Ac­cord­ing to a Bloomberg busi­ness pro­file, the CCA is “a di­rect mail pro­duc­tion fa­cil­ity [that] spe­cial­izes in con­tin­u­ous form print­ing, data pro­cess­ing, per­son­al­iza­tion, fin­ish­ing, and mail pro­cess­ing. The com­pany of­fers spe­cialty work, such as em­bossed and ther­mal plas­tic cards, notepads, ad­dress la­bels, and car­bon­less form im­pact print­ing. It of­fers di­rect mail ser­vices to clients in the United States and in­ter­na­tion­ally.”

A na­tional Repub­li­can Party con­sul­tant, who had vis­ited the CCA on sev­eral oc­ca­sions, tells this news­pa­per “the plant was ba­si­cally a print and let­ter pro­duc­tion shop for di­rect mail con­ser­va­tive causes — RNC [Repub­li­can Na­tional Com­mit­tee], NRSC [Na­tional Repub­li­can Se­na­to­rial Com­mit­tee], NRA [Na­tional Ri­fle As­so­ci­a­tion] . . .

“Have done a lot of work there and known the Fisher fam­ily for 25 years,” he said, “and a dear friend of mine works there . . . what a shock to read this.”

The CCA was founded by Steven’s fa­ther, John Mor­ris Fisher, who was well known in White House, con­gres­sional, mil­i­tary and aca­demic cir­cles. He ad­vised sev­eral U.S. pres­i­dents, and most no­tably won the praise of President Ron­ald Rea­gan.

“My idol,” Steven Fisher told the News.

The elder Fisher, who died at age of 90 in 2013 and is buried in Culpeper, was a dec­o­rated World War II vet­eran and for­mer FBI spe­cial agent. He left the bureau in 1953 to be­come Na­tional Di­rec­tor for Se­cu­rity with Sears, Roe­buck and Co. Two years later he be­came founder and president of the Amer­i­can Se­cu­rity Coun­cil.

In 1971, his obit­u­ary in the Wash­ing­ton Post stated, he founded CCA and served as its chair­man un­til his death while his son, as president, ran day-to-day op­er­a­tions. Lo­cally, Fisher was president of the Culpeper Hos­pi­tal Foun­da­tion.

But he is per­haps best known na­tion­ally for de­vel­op­ing the Na­tional Strat­egy of Peace Through Strength.

“To help ac­com­plish this, he or­ga­nized the Bi­par­ti­san Coali­tion for Peace Through Strength,” the obit­u­ary noted. “This coali­tion grew to in­clude 231 con­gress­men, 42 sen­a­tors, and 20 gov­er­nors from both par­ties; 169 na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tions; 514 col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties; 3500 mem­ber com­pa­nies; more than 2500 ad­mi­rals and gen­er­als; and more than 350,000 in­di­vid­ual mem­bers.

“He also worked closely with all pres­i­dents from Dwight D. Eisen­hower to Ge­orge H.W. Bush on na­tional se­cu­rity mat­ters.”

President Rea­gan re­marked of Fisher: “As an early mem­ber of the coali­tion . . . I sup­ported your res­o­lu­tion for a Peace Through Strength strat­egy, and it was in­cor­po­rated as a part of the 1980 Repub­li­can Plat­form [when Rea­gan was first elected president].

“Qui­etly and ef­fec­tively, your coali­tion,” said Rea­gan, “has made a great con­tri­bu­tion to­ward restor­ing the cred­i­bil­ity of Amer­ica’s de­fenses. Your work on Capi­tol Hill and with the pub­lic at large has been a prin­ci­pal fac­tor in re­turn­ing Amer­ica to the days when she was mil­i­tar­ily strong and morally prin­ci­pled.”

PHO­TOS BY JOHN MC­CASLIN

An ex­hausted fire­fighter from Brandy Sta­tion Vol­un­teer Fire Sta­tion takes a breather as thick black smoke con­tin­ues to pour from the de­stroyed Bos­ton plant.

Sper­ryville Vol­un­teer Fire De­part­ment fire­fighter Matthew Cody Dod­son takes a much­needed break Sun­day morn­ing af­ter bat­tling the multi-alarm blaze near Bos­ton. A deputy with the Rap­pa­han­nock County Sher­iff’s Of­fice, Dod­son was on pa­trol when the fire broke out around 11 p.m. Satur­day. Af­ter his shift ended it didn’t take him long to switch from his sher­iff’s uni­form into his fire­man’s gear.

BY JOHN MC­CASLIN

Hav­ing bat­tled flames through the night, a pair of young fire­fight­ers from Lit­tle Fork Vol­un­teer Fire in Rix­eyville fall sound asleep on the grass a safe dis­tance from the still-rag­ing fire.

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