Strategy underway to rebuild Boston plant destroyed by massive fire
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.”
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.
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.