Fire strikes cabinet shop

By Dick Mason, The Observer December 27, 2013 09:40 am

La Grande firefighters battle a blaze at Millers Cabinet Shop and Showroom Christmas morning. (PHIL BULLOCK/The Observer)
La Grande firefighters battle a blaze at Millers Cabinet Shop and Showroom Christmas morning. (PHIL BULLOCK/The Observer)

Nobody hurt in Christmas morning blaze that causes about $40,000 worth of damage

A structure fire marred a peaceful Christmas morning in downtown La Grande.

The blaze struck Millers Cabinet Shop and Showroom, seriously damaging a portion of its production center. The La Grande Fire Department was alerted to the blaze at 8:55 a.m. 

An engine, a ladder truck and 17 firefighters were sent to the fire. 

The blaze was contained in less than an hour and the 17 firefighters remained at the scene until about noon. Two firefighters remained the scene until 4 p.m. investigating the fire. 

“The fire department did a fantastic job,’’ said Steve Colkitt, an owner of Millers Cabinet Shop and Millers Lumber and Truss.

Nobody was injured in the structure fire that caused an estimated $40,000 worth of damage, according to Robert Tibbetts, a La Grande Fire Department firefighter and investigator. 

Colkitt said that security cameras indicate that the fire started at 8:30 a.m. The fire was reported via a 911 call 25 minutes later. The individual apparently had seen smoke coming from the building since flames were never visible outside the building. Colkitt said that if not for the individual who reported the fire the damage it caused would have been much worse.

“I don’t know who called 911 but I’m thankful that the individual did,’’ Colkitt said. 

The early report of the fire is a big reason Millers Cabinet Shop and Showroom, which is insured for fire, will be able to reopen soon.

“There is a lot to be thankful for,’’ Colkitt  said.

Tibbetts stressed that the blaze was much easier to contain than it would have been because the Millers Cabinet Shop building was in compliance with modern fire codes. The protective features in placed included a double sheetrock ceiling.   

“It prevented the fire from spreading more easily to other parts of the building,’’ Tibbetts said.

All of the firefighters entering the building wore Self Contained Breathing Apparatus air tanks to prevent them from inhaling smoke and toxic fumes. The SCBA tanks were re-filled during the fire with an air trailer operated by members of the La Grande Rural Fire Department, Tibbetts said.

The biggest losses for Millers Custom Cabinet Shop and Showroom, 217 Greenwood St., were its finishing booth and an overhead sander. The store will make up for these losses by having portions of some of its projects completed at other sites. This means customers will not be impacted by the fire.       

“We will meet all of our production quotas,’’ Colkitt said. 

He also said no employees will have their hours cut back as a result of the fire.

The cause of the Christmas morning fire has not been determined, Tibbetts said.