STUART, Fla. — The owner of Hog Technologies is vowing to rebuild after a large structure fire caused up to $30 million in damage to the building and took county and city fire departments 10.5 hours to extinguish.
President/CEO James P. Crocker, who started the company in 1988 in Stuart, said it was as "terrible sight" to see the building burn Friday night but his focus is on rebuilding so his 200 employees can come back to work.
“I think where I struggle is trying to meet a payroll of a quarter million dollars a week with our being able to produce," Crocker told WPTV's Danielle Seat on Saturday.
"A lot of people here have so much invested — time, energy, emotion. This is our life's work. And last night to stand here and watch it burn. I got pretty emotional."
Crocker and employees showed up at the building Saturday with signs of encouragement taped to the building, including Hog Strong and From the ashes we will rise.
A large tent was set up with picnic tables. Industrial cleaning trucks and generators were at the scene in the clan-up efforts.
“Everybody is banning together, holding signs and honking horns," the owner said. "I think that’s the thing that is going to pull us through is that team spirit.”
Crocker took WPTV on a walk through the damage Saturday, which he says could cost between $10 million and $30 million.
“I started this business when I was 18 years old," Cocker said. "I bought a $1,200 pressure washer, started cleaning roofs, sidewalks patios."
Hog Technologies now manufactures road and runway paint and rubber removal equipment, including Stripe Hog, Thermo Hog, Paint Hog, Rumble Hog, Grinder Hog, Surface Hog and Concrete Hog.
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"The opportunity soon arose to use high-pressure water to remove road markings. Mr. Crocker was fascinated with the speed at which the markings were removed and the ability to remove such tough materials without substantially damaging the road surface," according to its website.
Martin County Fire Rescue, Stuart Fire Rescue and the Martin County Sheriff’s Office responded to the fire on Southeast Commerce Avenue and Southeast Market Place about 9 p.m. Friday that started in a truck inside the building. It wasn't until 7:30 a.m. Saturday the fire was fully extinguished.
At one time, more than 20 units and 50 firefighters on the scene.
There were two explosions.
Officials told WPTV's Briana Nespral on Saturday morning that the fire spread quickly through the entire building. They said it was “very difficult” to fight because of the size of the building and lots of industrial manufacturing equipment and chemicals inside.
Heavy smoke was in the area with South Commerce Avenue shut down by deputies.
The roof was on the verge of collapsing though only one section ended up doing that.
Crews worked to contain the remaining hotspots.
Everyone was evacuated and there were no injuries.
The state fire marshal is at the site investigating the cause of the fire.
Martin County Fire Rescue, which assisted the city's fire department, described it as "2nd alarm" in providing aid to the city fire department.