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Published: Wednesday, 3/20/2002

Owner of Delta business plans to rebuild damaged parts firm

DELTA - Delta Tool & Die Steel Block Co. will rebuild after last week's fire, said owner John Gilders, who estimated the damage at $750,000.

The business, which employs nine people in sheet metal stamping and tool and die work, has outsourced all of its work for the auto industry since the March 10 fire in Swan Creek Township.

Mr. Gilders said the shop's presses were salvageable and he plans to erect a steel building. The new shop, he predicted, will be operating within six months at the same site at 5226 County Road 6. In the meantime, employees will work in a smaller building.

The blaze was the largest handled by the Delta Fire Department since March 31 when an arsonist caused more than $1 million damage to Shipman Advertising Co. at 304 West Main St., Delta Fire Chief Chuck Hudson said.

Eight fire departments fought last week's fire, which was reported about 3:30 a.m. Arson, which has hit more than 20 Fulton County buildings in the past year, was eliminated as a cause, Chief Hudson said.

“The big problem was the wind moved the fire so fast,” he said. “When we got there the back portion of the building had already fallen in.”

Mr. Gilders, whose home is 10 feet from the shop, said emergency officials awakened him.

He said he believed the fire was caused by a short in a motor, which was in the corner of the 150-by-180 foot building where the fire appeared to start. The building was just a couple years old. The business was started in 1980.

Firefighters hauled water from Delta to the shop about three miles southeast of the village. About 50 firefighters were at the scene, but strong winds gave them few options.

“There's nothing they could do but squirt water,” Mr. Gilders said. “As soon as the fire broke through the ceiling it was just a big tunnel fire.”

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