Bartow County Fire Department received at 12:33 a.m. and was on the scene within minutes to find flames through the roof of Mouldings Unlimited, 3439 Highway 411, according to BCFD Battalion Chief Bryan Keeling. Cartersville Fire Department, along with Cherokee and Gordon counties, were called in to assist the department.
Witnesses had reported explosions around the time of the fire. Keeling said gas and propane cylinders inside the building could have been the source of the explosions, which continued until midday Friday.
The department experienced issues with water volume attempting to extinguish the blaze.
“The city of White, their water system runs off of wells, so it hasn’t been pressure so much as a volume issue,” Keeling said. “... We had to curtail our operations in order not to deplete their system. We weren’t going to jeopardize their water system.”
The cause of the fire was unknown Friday, and according to Keeling, the department had called in the state fire marshal’s office to assist in the investigation.
Crews closed U.S. Highway 411 through early afternoon Friday, with a White Police Department vehicle suffering extensive damage when a motorist struck his vehicle blocking the roadway. A Bartow County Sheriff’s Office patrol car also was damaged Friday when it was struck while parked on U.S. Highway 411. No one was injured in either incident, and Keeling said no injuries were reported from the fire.
Constructed in the early 1960s, the building had previously housed a carpet facility and yard business. Reid and Brenda Dunn purchased the property in early 1998 when the yarn facility closed.
The Dunns were out of town when the blaze started and landed at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport early Friday evening.
Speaking from the road, Reid Dunn said the couple was devastated when they learned of the fire about 12:45 a.m.
Dunn said the business had survived the recession, making “the proper adjustments” several years ago, and supplies an Atlanta and Kennesaw location. “The Atlanta location was in the middle of a record month. It’s just devastation.”
The White manufacturer employs 36 people and had recently made the shift from three shifts to a longer day shift. Dunn said having no one in the building at the late hour could have been a blessing.
“We certainly thank our lucky stars no one got hurt trying to fight the fire or get out of the building,” he said.
Fire crews plan to be at scene, working through Monday.
“Right now we are scheduling operational periods until Monday just because of the sheer volume of debris and fire we still have,” Keeling said Friday morning. “We’re hoping that once the water pressure levels out with the volume and we got enough that we can actually start putting the fire out again, we’re hoping it doesn’t last that long but we are scheduling for that.”
For Dunn, the rebuilding process starts immediately.
“We are gonna certainly go back and rebuild or maybe find another location to buy,” he said. “Time is going to be of the essence; we have hundreds of customers depending on us. We are under a tremendous gun to get something going as quickly as possible.”
“There are a lot of unanswered questions. ... We just got to pick up the pieces and figure our where to get started back.”