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Byline: Gary B. Gray
Jun. 17--BRISTOL, Tenn. -- Charred lumber, twisted and rusted metal, and chunks of busted concrete still form a massive heap nearly seven months after a Thanksgiving Day fire destroyed a former casket-manufacturing building.
Officials with the Indiana-based Aurora Casket Co. still say they plan to remove the debris from the old Cortrim Hardwood Parts Co. site on the corner of Georgia Avenue and Oakwood Street.
But neighbors are losing patience, claiming the company promised quicker action.
"It's a real eyesore," said Pat Large, who lives on Georgia Avenue. "You can be patient for a while, but I doubt that they [Aurora] would want to live here and look out at it. We just want it down."
In large part, the delay is blamed on an ongoing fire investigation -- one local official called the fire's origin "suspicious" from the start, and arson has not been ruled out.
Aurora pledges to clean up the site by summer's end.
At the time of the Nov. 23 blaze, no one was working at the former casket factory, which was being used to store lumber.
Not only has the debris been an eyesore and a safety hazard, the company also has failed to come through on promises to reimburse property owners for the damage the blaze caused to their homes, said Ed King, who lives at 1441 Georgia Ave.
He said William E. Barrott III, Aurora president and chief executive officer, flew to Bristol from company headquarters and met with residents the evening of the fire.
"He told me to my face that it didn't matter if a cup was sitting in the window and it was destroyed -- …