Condition of scorched building delays finding cause

Premium Concrete Service was engulfed in flames and firefighters noted an explosion as they arrived. The building is currently too dangerous to conduct an investigation into the cause.

Posted on Feb. 24, 2014 at 12:19 p.m.

ELKHART — A fire may have destroyed his company's building, but Max Yeakey said he will continue to do business.

Emergency crews responded at about 1:07 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 23, to Premium Concrete Services, 4331 Pine Creek Road, for reports of a structure fire.

According to a press release from the fire department, the blaze was under control by 2:27 p.m. Heat caused significant damage to the steel structure of the building.

Lt. Aaron Gerber, an investigator with the fire department, said he was unable to complete an investigation because of how much damage there was to the building, which made it unsafe.

He said he would not continue the investigation until the structure is safe.

However, Gerber said he determined the fire started in the business' shop area.

The fire not only prevented investigators from determining the cause, but it also slowed firefighters in putting it out.

Battalion Chief Wes Johnson said crews found the building engulfed in flames when they arrived.

Fire crews had to take a defensive approach, meaning that they could only attack the fire from the outside at first.

Firefighters reported that an explosion went off within the building shortly after they arrived. Johnson said the explosion was possibly caused because of tanks of acetylene, propane, oxygen and diesel fuel stored inside the building.

No injuries were reported from the fire.

Yeakey said the company will continue to operate in the meantime, even if he has to find a temporary location for his business.

"This is a major hurdle and challenge for us, but we'll come through this stronger," he said. "It's just a challenge we didn't know we were going to face, but here we are and we'll get through it. We have a lot of support and all our employees are committed."

Yeakey, a former firefighter, started the business with his wife, Becky, about 10 years ago. Premium Concrete Services is a specialty concrete contractor.

Yeakey said the insurance company is still investigating the incident and assessing the damage, so he could not comment on the details about the investigation. He said he does not know what could have caused the fire.

Yeakey said he has already received an overwhelming amount of support from people in the community who heard about the fire.

"We've had an overwhelming amount of support from our clients and people in the industry, friends, family, firemen, the city," he said. "It's amazing how much support we've had. It's just, people care and it's nice. It's a good feeling."


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