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Arc Weld ‘open for business’

Arc Weld ‘open for business’
Arc Weld ‘open for business’
Dennis Jenkins, owner of Arc Weld, looks over what’s left of his business Sept. 21. A massive fire Sept. 16 and 17 gutted both of Arc Weld’s buildings; however, Jenkins is keeping the company up and running by moving operations to nearby pole barns. Photo by Alan Stewart (click for larger version)

Last Wednesday afternoon, Dennis Jenkins said he’d had about four or five hours of sleep since his business, Arc Weld Inc., burned to the ground on Sept. 16 and 17.
‘The thing I need right now is rest,’ he said. ‘The biggest hassle has been spending time with the fire inspectors and forensic guys. It’s tied my days up since the fire.’
What was left of Arc Weld was still smoldering Saturday morning when Frontier Communications arrived, Jenkins said, adding that in about two hours they had telephone service and Internet up and running to the company’s new location in a nearby pole barn.
‘I’ve had competitors calling asking if they could help in whatever way possible. We went and pulled half of our welding supply inventory from our Mitchell store; we have more cylinders on the way. Things are going to be good. We’re just working with handcuffs on,’ Jenkins said. ‘Things are coming along. We’re ready to take care of people right now.
‘Even though one of our competitors went out and told five of our customers we were dead and we weren’t coming back, we are open for business,’ he said.
Jenkins said his 12 employees at the Corydon location have been working as hard as he has, turning in 18-hour days to help get the company back on its feet.
Last Wednesday, with smoke still rising from one area of the buildings, he gave a tour of what was left of the warehouse that stored much of his inventory. The burned-out remains of a service truck sat to the northwest of the storage area. The east side of the storage area was bulged out after nitrous oxide and oxygen mixed together in an explosion, the north wall and part of the roof had been blasted away, charred tanks and welding equipment littered the area both inside and outside the building, the concrete floor was pulverized and some of the roof’s steel support beams were warped and sagging from the intense heat. There was also an oxygen tank that had burst into multiple pieces and was laying near the north wall. The force of the explosion left a 16-inch wide crater in the concrete floor.
‘There were also pieces of another cylinder in front of Classic Detail, and the heat melted some of the vinyl siding on (Classic Detail’s) building. A propane tank on the back of one of our forklifts exploded, too. We had a flame probably 200 to 300 feet in the air,’ Jenkins said. ‘It’s a real mess, but we’re going to get through it.’
Jenkins said a forensics specialist with the state fire marshal’s office was on-site until 7:30 Monday night, Sept. 19. The preliminary finding was a short in wiring on the roof, which eventually led to the entire building being charged with electricity and shocking firefighters who touched it. Heat from the short, Jenkins said, is likely what caused the fire.
‘All four of the smoke alarms and motion detectors went off at the exact same time where the wiring was shorting out. You never have four go at the same time,’ Jenkins said.
By the time he and his wife, Kathy, arrived to the scene Friday, Sept. 16, the entire front of Arc Weld was completely engulfed in fire and smoke. That’s when Arc Weld employees frantically worked to clear several dozen tanks from a rear loading dock, and firefighters were told to start spraying three large holding tanks near the northeast wall.
‘Two of them were liquid nitrous and liquid argon and those are inert, but if that liquid oxygen would have gone, it’d have leveled everything you can see from here,’ Jenkins said. ‘I told them not to let the fire get to it.
‘I don’t mean this like they didn’t do a good job, because they really did. That nothing else caught fire shows they did a great job,’ he said. ‘But, you could tell some of the firefighters were a little scared of the intensity of the situation. I’m not sure many of them had ever experienced anything like that.’
Arc Weld has moved into a building across the driveway from its burned-out location. Inventory is continually being gathered, a partial showroom, bathrooms and offices have been already been installed, and, in about two weeks, Jenkins said, the company should be almost back to normal day-to-day operations.