Windsor

Kimball Lumber fire in Kingsville, Ont., caused over $1.5M in damages, vice-president estimates

The 20 staff at Kimball Lumber and Building Suppliers in Kingsville, Ont., returned to work Tuesday with adjustments to how they're doing business following a weekend fire that is still under investigation.

No injuries from Sunday night fire in Essex County town, cause still under investigation

A fire at Kimball Lumber and Building Suppliers in Kingsville, Ont., was called in Sunday evening, and caused severe damage to the two-floor structure. (Jennifer La Grassa/CBC)

The vice-president at Kimball Lumber and Building Suppliers in Kingsville, Ont., is already gearing back up to operate with adjustments to how they do business following a weekend fire that is still under investigation.

The cause of the fire has still not been determined, according to Chief John Quennell of the Kingsville Fire Department.

At the fire's peak, 34 firefighters were on scene, although there were no injuries.

Quennell said the 911 call came in around 7 p.m. ET, and by the time crews got there, the fire had time to develop.

Company vice-president Kevin Kimball said he was heartbroken by the devastation caused by the fire. He estimates damage of more than $1.5 million.

"It's a family business. I'm third generation. My grandfather started this with my father, and it's tough to see, it really is."

Kingsville's fire chief estimated it took nearly three dozen firefighters to battle the blaze. (OPP)

Kimball said he rushed to the scene when he found out about the fire.

"I entered the store at first, but the back wall was just full of flames, so I just backed right out."

Kimball expects it could take into next week for operations to return to normal while they wait for mobile offices to arrive, and computer and payment systems to get back online.

He said the about 20 employees who were back to work Tuesday have been able to keep taking orders on pieces of paper for people who have accounts with the business.

Deliveries are still happening, but stock at the store could be limited depending on what products people are looking to get.

"It'll be different, but we'll be back for more business," he said.

Although Kimball gave damage estimate of over $1.5 million, he said he won't know for sure until after insurance adjusters do their work.

Damage to 3rd-generation business 'awful'

At midnight Monday, a "big shovel" was called in to move debris to allow crews to put out hotspots at the two-floor, 12,500-square-foot facility, Quennell said.

Company vice-president Kevin Kimball says he watched the fire burn for most of the night, hoping he'd be able to get into the building and salvage some of the equipment. (Jennifer La Grassa/CBC)

Firefighters were on scene until 4 a.m., when the property was handed back over to the owners.

Kimball said he stayed through the night, watching the building burn because he had hoped the fire could be brought under control and some shop equipment could be salvaged.

"It was awful. I've worked here since I was 12 years old and we did a renovation 10 years ago where we pretty much gutted the entire inside of the store," he said.

"It was a lot of hard work for a lot of us. A lot of the employees did a lot of the work as well, and it's heart-wrenching, it really is, to see all this go down in literally a matter of hours."

Kimball thanked people and businesses from the community for their support.

Debris is all that's left of the 12,500 square-foot facility in Kingsville, Ont. (Jennifer La Grassa/CBC)

Kimball said he isn't sure what started the fire and the whole ordeal is still feeling surreal.

"It'll take some time. There's a lot to process in a very short period of time. It took a lot of years to get it this far, and it's going to take a bit to get it back to where it was, so it's tough."

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With files from Jennifer La Grassa and Kerri Breen

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