A fire gutted Parker Industries, a metal-working plant in southern Burke County, early Friday morning.
The fire was called in around 3:30 a.m. by a neighbor who woke up and smelled smoke in his house, said Burke County Fire Marshal Mike Willis. When firefighters arrived, flames were shooting through the roof of the building on Rhoney Road, he said.
Fire departments in Burke, Catawba, Cleveland and Lincoln counties worked to get the fire under control, Willis said. It took a couple of hours to get the fire under control.
Seventy-five percent or more of the building was destroyed by the fire, Willis said.
The cause of the fire still is under investigation, Willis said. He said the SBI is investigating the fire.
Kevin Toler, production engineer for the company, said the fire will be felt across the South Mountains community.
“It’s just devastating to the employees that work here, to this community,” Toler said. “Parker was a big reason the fire department (was next door). The land was donated by Mrs. Parker when it first got started.”
Employee William Puckett estimated about 70 percent of his coworkers live within three miles of the company.
“It’s just a tragedy,” Puckett said. “Fifty something days out from Christmas -- families are going to have to think about everything.”
The company website lists the following information about the company:
"Founded in 1957, Parker Industries began as a stamping company. Over time we added CNC mills and lathes, laser and plasma cutting, press brakes and welding. ... We currently produce metal parts from the size of a paper clip to up to 10 feet across. These parts are used in a wide variety of industries, including transportation, industrial components and heavy equipment. We also provide finishing services through partner companies who specialize in specific areas."
Chrissy Murphy is a staff writer and can be reached at email@example.com or at 828-432-8941