Fire Destroys Clay County Business

By: Dara Rees Email
By: Dara Rees Email

A fire destroys a Clay County business. Workers say a spark started a fire at the Panco Wood Shop in Oneida, and now the shop's owner says his main concern is leaving his employees without a job.

At least 10 fire departments responded to the fire that sparked just before two Friday afternoon, and though no one was injured, owner Jerry Rice says he lost more than a building.

Wooden pallets produced at the Panco Wood Shop burned for hours as neighbors watched their local business burn to the ground.

Owner Jerry Rice says, "A spark got over on something and before we knew what was happening, it was up in a blaze."

"I was in there grinding on a piece of machinery and I had my head down and I felt the heat starting to come on the back of my neck and looked up and there was just flames all around me," says employee Jerry Rice, II.

Rice says his business was just beginning to take off.

"We had just put in $260,000 worth of new machinery and got it set up where we were able to produce, and our market was just beginning to bloom," says Rice.

The Panco Wood shop employed many local people throughout the years and helped other local wood working businesses stay open.

Workers Rita and James Riley say, "It's just devastating, this was our life. This was the life of everything around here."

"One of our visions here is to create work in this county. And that's one of the devastating loss of this shop, it's not working a whole lot of people, but but every job is important in this county," says Rice.

Neighbors evacuated their homes close to the fire, but firefighters worked hard to make sure none were destroyed.

Jerry Rice says it's early to think about, but he says he does plan to rebuild his shop to bring back the jobs to the community.


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