2009-03-02 Fire destroys Krajicek Pallet facility (Gordon Wolf)
Ed Krajicek said he will rebuild his
pallet manufacturing facility that burned during a massive fire in
Denison late Saturday and Sunday.
Although the pallet construction facility and equipment, along with truck wash and truck service bays, were completely destroyed, the company still made 850-900 pallets on Monday, setting up shop in their outdoor parking lot that is not yet completed.
Krajicek said he called all his pallet customers on Sunday and Monday and told them it would be business as usual.
"We're going to keep serving our customers," he stated. "Of course, we had some things on hand at our Crete (Nebraska) facility, so we brought in a couple trailer loads of materials from there. We also brought some extra nail guns from Crete."
Pallet construction at Crete will increase to cover the number of pallets that can't be made in Denison.
Krajicek said on a good day, the pallet manufacturing facility in Denison could produce 5,750 pallets.
According to Denison Fire Chief Mike McKinnon, the majority of the 30,165 square foot facility, located at 605 North 10th Street in Denison, was completely destroyed by fire.
The fire department was called to the scene at 11:50 p.m. Saturday.
More than 64 firefighters and 17 pieces of equipment from eight departments were called to the scene.
McKinnon stated that damages are likely to exceed $1.5 million.
The fire department had not yet released a cause for the fire as of press deadline. It remains under investigation by the Denison Fire Department and an agent from the Iowa State Fire Marshal's office.
Krajicek Inc. has 105 employees all together, including the facilities in Denison and Crete. Krajicek said the fire will affect all of them in some way or another, although the truck drivers less than the pallet manufacturers.
Krajicek and about 30 of his employees were on the scene late Saturday, early Sunday, saving all they could.
"We saved a couple end loaders, a couple small ATVs for snow removal, a couple small trailers and wheel alignment and balancing machines," Krajicek stated.
They also saved a few tools, some computers and some of the daily billing materials.
"We went for that right away," Krajicek said. "We got most of that out."
As for the inventory of nails and raw materials for pallet manufacturing, it was all lost to the fire.
Also lost to the fire were the wash-out bays where 60 trucks a day were washed to prepare for new loads, all the tractor service bays, and about $67,000 worth of parts that were on consignment.
The office was spared, although it received heavy smoke and water damage.
Although the office area was able to be saved, it suffered heavy smoke and water damage.
A building where trailer refrigeration and general damage on trailers is repaired was spared from fire, smoke and water damage.
Krajicek had nothing but praise for the firefighters and others who came out in the cold and early morning hours to help.
"We appreciate everyone who offered a helping hand," he stated. "There were many people who stayed up all night to help out."
Fighting massive fire involves help from seven other communities
Sixty-four firefighters and 17 pieces of firefighting equipment from eight departments battled the blaze late Saturday night at Krajicek Pallet, Inc. in Denison.
Some firefighters were on the scene for more than five hours.
According to Denison Fire Chief Mike McKinnon, the majority of the 30,165 square foot facility was completely destroyed by fire. Damages likely to exceed $1.5 million.
Although the office area was able to be saved, it suffered heavy smoke and water damage.
The business is owned by Edward J. and Lottie Krajicek. The owner and employees saved many items and also were onsite to assist the fire department with moving equipment and helping gain access to various areas of the facility.
The fire is still under investigation with the Denison Fire Department and an agent from the Iowa State Fire Marshal's office.
The first firefighter crew to enter the building encountered one area of fire inside the main building and reported that the attic area was completely involved in fire. Not long after that, all firefighters were pulled out because of the instability of the roof, and a short while later the roof began collapsing.
Firefighters then set up a defensive attack to protect the office structure and two buildings full of hay bales.
Several small explosions occurred during the fire due to the items stored in the facility, and one pressurized container actually launched into the air.
Cold temperatures had a detrimental effect on firefighting operations. The temperature was five degrees above zero when firefighters arrived on the scene, and the temperatures led to the failure of several pieces of equipment because they froze.
As they battled the blaze, firefighters became covered in ice and had to be rotated in and out of service to keep them from being injured.
Heavy sheets of ice formed on the ground making it difficult to maneuver. The Denison Public Works department responded with a sander to help improve traction.
McKinnon's report stated that on January 26, 2000, a fire completely destroyed the pallet company, and at that time Edward Krajicek vowed to rebuild after the fire. From that time, Krajicek Pallet, Inc. grew to include not only the building of pallets but also grinding pallet
material for mulch and a large truck washout facility.
- At 11:50 p.m. on Saturday, the Denison Fire Department was called to Krajicek Pallet, Inc. for a report of a possible fire.
- Denison Police officers who arrived at the scene less than a minute later reported heavy smoke coming from the entire structure.
- Mutual aid was immediately requested from the Vail Fire Department, the Crawford County Ambulance, and Denison Municipal Utilities.
- When the fire department arrived, firefighters saw heavy smoke coming from all openings of the Krajicek Pallet buildings and saw flames coming from the chimneys or vent stacks in the roof of the main building. The Denison firefighters immediately set up for an aggressive attack on the fire.
- The first firefighter crew entered the facility, and employees and the owner of Krajicek Pallet started removing vehicles from around the facility.
- Firefighters encountered one area of fire inside the main building. The firefighter crew reported the attic area was completely involved in fire.
- Mutual aid was requested from Charter Oak, and additional aerial trucks were called into duty from the Harlan and Carroll fire departments.
- Minutes later all firefighters were pulled from the structure due to the instability of the roof structure. A short while later the roof began collapsing.
- Firefighters set up a defensive attack to protect the office structure and two buildings full of hay bales.
- The Denison, Harlan and Carroll aerial trucks were positioned to protect the vulnerable areas, and master stream devices were put into action to assist in controlling the spread of fire.
- As the fire continued to advance, additional manpower was requested from the Deloit and Manilla fire departments.
- In addition to pressurized containers exploding, two oil containers in the facility caught on fire.
- Once the roof area collapsed, firefighters began working on extinguishing hot spots, but due to the steel ceiling and steel roof that covered all the wood products, firefighters were not able to reach several areas, and these were left to burn out.
- Mutual aid fire departments started being released from service around 3:30 a.m. Sunday. All fire units left the scene by 5:04 a.m. Sunday.
- Denison firefighters spent another two hours at their station cleaning and thawing equipment and restocking all of the apparatus and preparing for the next call. Firefighters returned to Krajicek Pallet two more times during the day on Sunday to keep smoldering hot spots
- The Denison Fire Department conducted hourly inspections to ensure that the fire did not spread to neighboring structures.
- The Denison Police Department set up traffic control points and also met mutual aid fire trucks on Highway 30 and led them to their designated positions.
- The Iowa State Patrol and Crawford County Sheriff's Office also assisted with traffic control. At one point, all the streets around the pallet company were closed to traffic.
- Eric and Terri Skoog from Cronk's Café responded to the scene with hot coffee, hot chocolate and sandwiches; they served the firefighters until after 5 a.m. Hy-Vee also provided doughnuts for the emergency responders.
- More than 1,500 feet of five-inch hose and 1,100 feet of 2-1/2-inch hose was laid out from four fire hydrants to supply water to the pumper trucks
Agencies responding included Denison Fire Department, Vail Fire Department, Inc., Dow City-Arion Fire Department, Charter Oak Fire Department, Deloit Fire Department, Manilla Fire Department. Carroll Fire Department, Harlan Fire Department, Crawford County Ambulance, Denison Police Department, Crawford County Sheriff's Department, Iowa
State Patrol, Denison Municipal Utilities, Black Hills Energy.