Fire cause undeterminable -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Fire cause undeterminable

June 30, 2006

Albany - - Fire investigators say they can't determine what caused a fire that destroyed two business near downtown Albany because the fire was just too intense. Even though there are unanswered questions, state fire marshals say it's clear the fire was not arson.

The fire broke out about 10:00 last night at 522 North Washington Street. It burned for hours. It started somewhere in D and D Kitchens, a cabinet company, but it spread to an adjacent business, Industrial Insulation. Both businesses were destroyed.

Investigators say there were a lot of flammable material inside, but nothing toxic. Firefighters remained on the scene today to cool down hotspots. Georgia Fire Safety Commissioner John Oxendine looked over the scene today along with three State Fire Marshal's investigators and a specially trained dog.  

We caught up with both business owners to find out how they plan to move forward.

After watching our coverage of the fire, Kenneth Sheffield wondered if his job would be in danger.

"Laying in the bed last night watching the news and it came on D&D Kitchen was on fire...and it shocked me."

He showed up to work today, and saw it for himself. Smoke still hovering over his workplace.

The pictures are drastic enough, but just as devastating for the owners, hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of equipment are now burned in the rubble. Including a new high-tech machine that cuts materials, like wood.

"We had the machine less than 6 months, it was a hundred thousand dollar machine and it's pretty much rubble," says David Dunn, the owner's son.

 Before the fire, he'd just finnished sketching designs for 14 new customers. They're destroyed.

"That's not counting all the kitchens that we had built and ready to go and the ones that were painted and ready to go into people's houses."

Investigators may never know for sure what caused the fire - though...

"One of the workers said it's possible they may have left a switch turned on and we looked up there and it was laying right there. I've got it locked up," says Albany Fire Captain Wayne Lay.

Sheffield probably wont be without a job long. Owners hope to be back in business within a month.

"It's sad. There's nothing we can do. What else can you do? Hope for the best and get another building," he says.

Paul Dunn owns D&D Kitchen Cabinets. He's in the process now of looking for a new building. D&D Kitchen Cabinets took up 14,000 square feet. The fire destroyed that business and a smaller one next door. 

Industrial Insulation was about 6,000 square feet. The owner of that business says, he too, learned his shop was on fire when he watched our 11:00 news. He's trying to keep a positive outlook.  

"We're not done. We stay in business. We got employees working today. Since we work on construction sites, we're not a manufacturing facility that where this can set us back, it will a little bit but as long as I have a computer and a fax and cell phones and telephones, we'll keep workin," says Paul Mock, owner of Industrial Insulation.

 Mock was able to recover some of his valuables from the fire - including 4 filing cabinets, checkbooks, and payroll records. Next week, he plans to look for a new building as well.

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