Firefighters from Lafayette, Westmoreland, South Allen County, and Southeast Allen County Kentucky, responded to the fire at Hackert and Sons' Cabinets located at 2948 Rocky Mound Rd.
More than fifteen members of the Lafayette Fire Department responded to assist Westmoreland firefighters shortly before 5:00 P.M. Monday evening, and found the 9,600 square foot metal building that housed Hackert and Sons cabinet shop engulfed in heavy smoke and spreading flames.
The Lafayette Fire Department reports using over 14,000 gallons of water between the time they arrived and when they departed just before 8:30 P.M.
“It started over there by that outside wood burning furnace,” Dennis Hackert asserted. “An employee put fire in the furnace and left. Then some of the brush outside caught fire and caught the building on fire,” the business owner speculated.
The shop's paint spray booth was located in the area where the fire came into the building and made contact with fumes from stains or urethane, according to the LFD report, which also contained Hackert's supposition about the cause of the fire.
Brandie Hooge, who was in the building with her son Austin and husband Jerome, who is an employee at the cabinet shop, reports an observant neighbor alerted the handful of people that remained in the building, to the fire and they were all able to leave without a problem.
“I was just in there, with our son Austin, cleaning up. I'm just glad the neighbor saw the fire and told us; I don't even know her name, but I'm glad she saw the fire and let us know,” Mrs. Hooge exclaimed.
Hackert, his family and employees on the scene, along with neighbors and onlookers, had no choice but to endure the frustration of standing by helplessly as fire fighters battled the thick smoke and roaring flames that appeared to grow instead of diminish, as the minutes passed into hours.
Two Westmoreland firefighters were overcome by combinations of heat, smoke, and fatigue while fighting the blazes, and required medical attention. A large piece of drywall and insulation fell across the back and neck of a third Westmoreland firefighter, but he did not require treatment at the time.
Volunteers from the Lafayette Fire Department arrived on the scene with cases of bottled water for the weary firefighters.
“This is just something we do to help out,” explained Clayton Cross, one of the young volunteers, and the son of Lafayette Fire Department Deputy Chief David Cross.
Rocky Mound Road traffic was heavier than usual, with residents returning home for the evening, along with the numerous emergency vehicles on the scene and curious onlookers stopping.
Phil Crook, 42, of Westmoreland, was driving a tanker, responding to the fire, when he ran off the east shoulder of Rocky Mound Road, about 1,000 feet south of Epperson Springs Road. When Crook overcorrected the tanker, he ran off the west shoulder and got stuck in a hay field. Crook was not injured, but passenger Jeremy Akins, 31, of Westmoreland, was treated on the scene, according to THP Sergeant Butch Avera.
On Tuesday morning, Lafayette firefighters returned to the site of the fire on Rocky Mound Road to assist South Allen County Kentucky firefighters, when the cabinet shop fire rekindled.
“It had gotten pretty big again this morning,” Lafayette firefighter Freddie Fuqua explained.
The cabinet shop had working smoke alarms, but no sprinkler system, according to the LFD report.
Although the valiant effort to save the Hackert and Sons Cabinet Shop was an all out community effort by the responding fire departments and rescue teams, the structure was determined to be a complete loss, with an estimated value of a million dollars, according to the Lafayette Fire Department.