Fire blazes through wood-pallet plant

Photo by Laura Williams

Photo by Laura Williams

ALBANY, Ga. -- Flames reaching 50 feet into the night air ripped through stored wood and assembled pallets Thursday night, reducing the Albany Pallet Exchange to rubble.

The cause of the fire remained unknown as the fire was declared under control at 9:45 p.m. said Albany Fire Department Chief James Carswell.

There were no injuries reported as firefighters began the long process of extinguishing hot spots at the 1509 Rodgers St. location through the night.

"When we got here to the building, the fire was fully involved."

Carswell said. "The fire burned so hot that it burned everything there -- the pallets, the building. It is all gone."

No cost estimate on the about 16,000-square-foot, concrete-block building that served as a wooden pallet manufacturing plant was available from Steve Dubravcic, an owner. The plant housed a forklift, two new saws and other equipment, he said.

"We had 1,000 pallets there," Dubravcic said. "I don't know what could have caused the fire."

There were no employees at the site after 3 p.m. said Ricky Lynn, an employee who returned to the now smoldering plant Thursday night. He believed lightning ignited propane tanks and the fire took off through the finished pallets and manufacturing materials.

Carswell said he didn't yet know what ignited the blaze, but there would be an investigation. No cost estimate was immediately available on what looked like a destroyed building.

Next door at Speedy's U Pull Auto Parts, W. Lamar Houston, the manager, said that the pallet company had just put a new steel roof atop the building.

"It looks like it is all gone," Houston said. "He had new equipment and everything is gone."