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Visiting workers save vacant Keller plant from burning

Disaster was avoided at the former Keller Manufacturing Co. plant site in downtown Corydon Friday, thanks to a timely visit by three workers from National Environmental Contracting.
With asbestos removal set to begin this week by the company, three NEC workers stopped by the site to make sure a storage trailer was placed in the correct location. When they stepped out of their vehicle, they smelled smoke.
After a couple of walk-throughs failed to turn up a source of the odor, they called emergency dispatch, and firefighters from two volunteer departments ‘ Harrison Township and Ramsey ‘ responded within minutes.
Firefighters eventually located the origin of the scent: a smoldering floor was found in Building 4, which formerly housed offices for production, personnel and purchasing.
The fire, which was later found to be caused by an arsonist, had been burning for some time and created a six-foot- by six-foot hole in the floor. Because the floors of the building were constructed of hardwood maple, which burns slowly, there was more smoke than fire.
‘It was arson for sure. It was meant to burn the whole building down,’ said Harrison Township volunteer firefighter Gerald Saulman. ‘The only thing that saved us was that crew coming in and smelling it burning. If it would have got going, everyone living on (Capitol Avenue) would have been in trouble.
‘And not only that, if we would have had to fight that fire, there’s no way we could have got out to help raise money for the Crusade for Children. We probably would have needed assistance from every department in the county, so they wouldn’t have been able to help, either. The good Lord was looking out for us and for the Crusade. That’s all you can say.’
Were it not for the visit by NEC’s men, things could have been much worse.
‘We were pretty lucky,’ said Floyd (Bud) Bennett, president of Main Street Corydon, which is working toward replacing the abandoned plant site.
‘Considering how long this building has been vacant and what could happen if it went up, things could have been pretty bad if those workers hadn’t stopped by,’ Bennett said. ‘It could have been a real catastrophe.’