Owner vows to rebuild

Rusty Hauver, center, owner of General Engineering Co., plans to rebuild the warehouse that was ravaged by a three-alarm fire on Wednesday. Ron Kline, left, warehouse operations supervisor, and Tonya Murray, shop supervisor, hold the custom-made company sign that was salvaged from the blaze. It will be a prominent part of the rebuilt business.

The owner of General Engineering Co. plans to rebuild his warehouse ravaged by a three-alarm fire on South Carroll Street.

Rusty Hauver spent Thursday waiting to hear from an insurance adjuster, erecting a chain-link fence around the structure and contacting a demolition company to tear down some unsteady bricks.

Fire ripped through the historic building at 59 S. Carroll St. shortly after 7 p.m. Wednesday.

"The call I got (Wednesday) night was the call I'd been dreading for 40 years," Hauver said. "I'm sorry to lose it. It's one of the oldest buildings in Frederick."

Damage to the warehouse is estimated at $2.5 million, said Mike Dmuchowski, spokesman for the county's Division of Fire and Rescue Services.

The fire began in a first-floor refrigerator and the cause has been ruled accidental, he said. Between 75 and 100 firefighters from 25 companies battled the blaze. No one was in the building when the fire began.

Barricades closed portions of East All Saints and South Carroll streets Thursday.

Through traffic is not allowed, but local traffic is permitted, said Keith Brown, assistant deputy director of the city's Department of Public Works. Crews installed the barricades for public safety, and they will be taken down once a fence and some demolition have been completed.

By 5 p.m. Thursday, workers finished erecting a fence around the burned building because of the risk of wall collapse, according to the Frederick Police Department.

Hauver said he was told he had until 2 p.m. today to complete the demolition.

The barricades were a popular place to be Thursday morning as many passers-by pulled out cameras and took pictures.

Frederick resident Mantz Michael takes a routine walk through downtown, but changed his route Thursday.

"I thought I'd come down and see it," he said. "I thought I'd be nosy."

Pete Ponton of Frederick came to take pictures. He said he remembered when the building housed a fertilizer company decades ago.

An adjoining building to the warehouse leased by the city's Department of Public Works sustained smoke damage.

The building housed parks and recreation items such as tents, tables, chairs and maintenance equipment for Carroll Creek Linear Park, said Rick Weldon, Mayor Randy McClement's executive assistant.

Several tables need to be replaced by this weekend for the city's Fourth of July celebration in Baker Park. The other items might smell a little smoky.

"We will air everything out and be good to go on Sunday," Weldon said. "We are pretty fortunate."

General Engineering Co. employs 10 people and sells water and sewer fittings locally and nationally. Its principal product is the Sealtite Sewer Pipe Saddle.

"The product we make, we're it," Hauver said. "Our customers are going to be hurting. We need to get back up as soon as possible."

Fire destroyed the warehouse, but the blaze hardly damaged the office and welding shop beside the structure. Hauver hopes to set up a temporary warehouse somewhere nearby.

The company has been in business since 1936 and located on South Carroll Street since the early 1970s.

As of Thursday morning, Hauver had taken only a quick peek inside the warehouse. He was shocked to find several items including a snowblower, PVC plastic fittings and a ladder untouched by the flames.

"I was amazed," Hauver said. "It's incredible -- what was damaged and what wasn't."

One item that survived was a painted steel sign mounted outside the front doors of the warehouse that features the Clustered Spires.

Mark Main, a former company welding shop foreman, created the sign in 2005.

"I was really happy we could save it," he said.

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