SRDC NEWS

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News STORY


ADL - BUSINESS AS USUAL

It's business as usual in the wake of a devastating fire Saturday that destroyed a third of Amalgamated Dairies Ltd.'s distribution facility at Read's Corner. Company CEO and general manager Jim Bradley said orders would be filled as usual and delivered on time even after the fire gutted a section of the building, destroyed stock and caused an estimated $5 million in damage.

"We're open for business, as best as we can make it happen," he said Saturday evening after meeting with employees. Calls have been made to ADL's customers informing them temporary facilities have been secured and orders would be filled and delivered as usual. Fire was reported at the Read's Corner facility around 7:30 Saturday morning. Summerside fire department quickly responded with 55 firefighters from both fire halls, four pumpers and a ladder truck. The fire started in the structure's newest addition at the south end of the complex. Firefighters worked throughout the morning to knock down the fire and prevent it from spreading through the rest of the building. Thick, black heavy smoke prompted the Department of Transportation and police to close down the section of Highway 1A from the intersection at Read's Corner to the Blue Shank Road for almost 10 hours due to poor visibility in that area. Area residents were told to keep windows closed and stay indoors due to the thick, toxic smoke, which lingered throughout the day Saturday. Although there was no worry about a possible explosion Summerside fire Chief Jim Peters said Saturday morning there were chemicals inside the facility. Luckily, winds were light, which helped in preventing the fire from spreading. While firefighters worked tirelessly to contain the blaze, onlookers -- many employees of ADL -- stood and watched the fire rage. Karen MacLean and husband Wayne, district manager at the facility, brought bottled water, doughnuts and sandwiches for those fighting the blaze.

"You just start to shake. One of the other employees and I have been running around getting water and coffee and stuff," said Karen, who called the fire devastating. "You go to pour the coffee and, as you can see, your hands are shaking." She said the 25 to 30 employees of the facility are a close-knit group. "Some of them have worked here since the place opened. It's quite a shock to see on a Saturday morning." The distribution centre is one of the largest suppliers to the P.E.I.'s food service industry, providing everything from plastic knives, forks and spoons to produce, meat, fish and frozen foods to restaurants, hotels and small retailers. After a section of the gutted section of the building was knocked down and fire contained Saturday afternoon, Bradley and staff put their contingency plan into action, securing temporary office space and ordering supplies.

Summerside Regional Development Corporation has provided the company with temporary office space in the Holman Building in the downtown. "There will be some challenges, of course, but with a little bit of understanding from everybody and I know our employees are more than eager to put their shoulder to the wheel and do what needs to be done," said Bradley. He commended the Summerside fire department on a job well done. "It has been a long day. These firemen here they've put in a long day, too.

They were here before I was this morning," added the CEO and general manager. "It was a hot day to be in those suits. They've done their best and salvaged what they could. They worked hard." The firewall between the older section of the building and the relatively new addition did what it was meant to do and prevented the fire from spreading, said the fire chief Sunday. Provincial fire marshal Dave Rossiter visited the site late Saturday afternoon while a crew of firefighters remained on scene throughout the night and into Sunday to ensure the fire didn't reignite. Peters said the cause of the fire has yet to be determined. The fire marshal was returning today to sift through the rumble and, hopefully, determine the cause. "There is some pretty heavy water and smoke damage to the rest of it. The adjusters will be here on Monday morning, the fire marshal and the insurance people will be here to see if they can determine the cause," said Bradley. "To replace it (the structure) and the product inside it would probably be $5 million. There's product in there but it is no good. It's not salvageable."

In true Maritime fashion, ADL's competitors have stepped up to help, he added. "Our competitors said they'd do what they can to make product available so our customers don't get stuck. We are very fortunate that we got our fleet away from the building before the fire came," said Bradley. "Our trucks are ready to go, we've got nobody hurt. They are working tonight (Saturday) in getting orders into our suppliers tomorrow. I would consider as early as Monday we'll be getting shipments in. It's going to be a challenge." Bell Aliant was also working over the weekend to ensure existing phone lines would be diverted to ADL's temporary offices downtown. "It's the same phone number, same fax number, same email addresses. They are doing everything behind the scenes. We're open for business and we appreciate the continued support of the Island business community," added Bradley. "Hopefully they'll have a little bit of patience and understanding while we deal through it. We'll be back up and operating again for sure."