UPDATE: Owner of burned out Cleveland business looks to rebuild
Firefighters spent hours battling an early morning fire that destroyed a Cleveland business. But the owner of Polymer Components told Channel-3 he's not ready to quit on his business.
The 40,000 square foot building may be a total loss but owner Ralph Brett said the business that employs about 25 people will continue.
"It's the worst nightmare you can have to get a call like that and hear the building is on fire," Brett said.
Ralph Brett's nightmare began with a phone call at 1 a.m. Thursday. His Cleveland business of 15 years was on fire. Firefighters were called out at 12:26 a.m to fight a two-alarm blaze at Polymer Components, a plant that produced custom made rubber and polyurethane parts on 20th Street SE.
"It's tough," he said. "We build this business from the ground up. It's not a pleasant experience to go through but we're working hard."
Brett has a couple dozen workers at the plant and said he'll take care of them anyway he can. Delores Garrett has been a molder at the plant for eight years.
"Everyone's here if something is wrong, they're sticking with you to help. They're a great group of people to work with," Garrett said. "It's just like a family here. Everyone you work with is real nice and everything."
And Thursday morning was no different.
As dawn replaced darkness, it was clear most of their workspace was gone. But most every worker was on site for hugs.
"That's the hard part," Brett said. "Some people have been with me since the beginning so we'll get them back working. We'll get them back working fast."
By no means was Thursday a day off. While parts of the building smoldered, Brett sent workers to buy new computers and desks.
"We hope to be in business very shortly," he said. "We have a lot of work to do to get this thing back up and going."
Brett said he owns a couple warehouses on the same street as the burned building and he's turning those into make-shift offices.
He said hundreds of customers depend on his products and dozens of workers depend on Friday's paycheck.
"You gotta get up everyday," he said. "In business, you gotta get up, you get a couple pushbacks and this is a pushback but we'll get up."
Firefighters battled the blaze outside the building. By the time they arrived, a fireman told Channel-3 he heard 3-4 bleve explosions inside the building. A bleve explosion happens when a liquid in a close container heats beyond its boil point, expands and explodes.
Cleveland fire crews left the scene after more than six hours. The cause is still under investigation.