ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI) - Lighting is suspected as the cause of a huge fire at an Albers Illinois company. It’s the second time in 13 years fire has devastated the business. “It had to be lighting it went so quick,” said Garry Kalmer owner of Kalmer Lumber and Pallet Manufacturing.
Five volunteer fire departments from the area raced to the business but it was too late. The fire had a lot of fuel to keep it spreading. Rick Musenbrock is chief of the Clin-Clair Fire Protection District, “A lot of wood in it sawdust stacks of wood pallets of a lot of fuel there it’s a big load and it’s hard to know down initially so we basIcally had to surround and drown it.”
No one was hurt by the company office was destroyed and so was the pallet assembly building and the machines that make the pallets. It’s the second time since 1999 fire has seriously damaged the business. Kalmer said, “It’s your whole life savings you just feel like hell when you see it but we got insurance we’ll survive.”
The Illinois State Fire Marshall is investigating. A lot of people think mother nature is to blame. Kalmer added, “Lightning was just so severe last night some neighbors down the road heard an extra loud one compared to all the rest.”
About 3 hours into the fight the lightning became so intense the chief directed crews t stand down for 20 to 30 minutes. Chief Musenbrock said, “I didn’t want to risk any firefighters’ safety.”
The company owner wants his customers to know they are still open and for the time being they will make the pallets by hand in another building. Garry Kalmer said, “We’ve been in business since 1970 we’ll be in business a lot longer we’re just going to have a hard time the next couple months.” 18 to 20 people are employed at the pallet making business.