Mauckport, Indiana (WHAS11) - A day after fire ravaged the Norstam Veneer plant, hundreds of employees have some burning questions.
7 year employee Paul Hermes said, “Just everything . . . Felt like your heart fell out the bottom. Just wondering if you’ve got a job.”
Sawmill supervisor Fred Mathes said, “It was hard for me . . . It’s hard for a lot of people. We’re an employee-owned company. Everybody I know is concerned. We’re like a family . . . Home away from home.”
Greg Schapker / WHAS11 News
A “home” to about 130 employees in this rural area. But only one man, a boiler room operator, was on duty in the warehouse when the fire broke out. He called the fire department when he smelled something burning.
When firefighters arrived, he got out unharmed, but the warehouse didn’t survive.
Stanley Coffman of the Heth Township fire dept. said, “It was just out of control . . . We tour this building once a year. But it just got out of control. We don’t know how it started.”
Stanley Coffman said, “Very difficult. At times it was 800 degrees in there. It’s very difficult. We sure hate to lose our factory here.”
The factory manufactures veneers and hardwood lumber, and is easily the largest employer in the area. Norstam ships their wood products all over the world and generates sales of about $12 million dollars a year.
Bonnie Wiseman talks about her husband losing his job, “We’re a little concerned. He’s the main breadwinner in our family. We live around here; there’s not a lot of work in Corydon. It’s going to be hard for him to find another job, I’m sure.”
Because the building is packed with wood and veneers, it was like a lit match, burning quickly. Supervisors say propane tanks inside also led to several explosions, before the building melted and crumbled beneath itself.
Sawmill supervisor Fred Mathes said, “The only thing we can do is go on. Nobody was hurt, it’s just a money thing. That can be replaced. That’s what our intentions are . . . To rebuild.”
And that’s what employees, who all have a stake in the employee-owned company like to hear. Each worker has a vested interest in the future of the company as a stockholder. All the more reason, they found it difficult to watch it all go up in flames.
6 year employee Robert Raley said, “It’s going to be tough on a lot of people. We’ll pick up and carry on as best we can.”
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