Gar Tootelian Inc., a farm chemical company near Reedley, was back in business on Monday, just a day after fire destroyed a 16,000-square-foot shop building.
More than 100 firefighters from CalFire/Fresno County Fire and fire departments from agencies including Reedley, Dinuba and Tulare County battled the blaze, which broke out just before noon Sunday at the company’s site along Crawford Avenue near South Avenue, east of Reedley.
“The shop is a complete loss,” said Ralph Rendon, marketing director for the company. “We lost our tools and a few forklifts, but we had some backups ready to go. ... It’s not affecting our operations; we’ve set up a temporary shop outside for our shop guys.”
The fire happened during off hours when the plant was closed, so no employees were hurt. “If this had to happen, it couldn’t be at a better part of the year,” Rendon said. “This is a slow time of the season, and our customers aren’t going to suffer from a lack of service.”
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None of the areas housing chemicals were affected by the fire. Damage from the fire was estimated at about $2 million, Rendon said. In addition to the shop building, there was smoke and water damage to a 4,000-square-foot extension to the shop.
It’s not clear when the company may rebuild the shop. “Right now we’re working on getting all of the damage removed. There’s a huge roof that’s collapsed in the middle of the whole area,” Rendon said. “Once we clear all that out, then we’ll go through the pre-building phases, plans and getting permits approved.”
As of Monday, the cause of the fire had yet to be determined.