Weekend fire destroys warehouse
By LPR Staff
A fire tore through a warehouse at the Lockhart Gin Co. on Saturday afternoon, producing a pillar of black smoke visible for miles, and causing concern about the flow of hazardous chemicals into a nearby creek.
According to David Schulle, manager of the Lockhart Gin Co., no one was injured and no crops were damaged as a
result of the blaze. However, the gin did lose almost a full day of production during their busiest time of the year.
“As worst case scenario goes, it wasn’t that bad,” he said. “No one got hurt… we only lost one day of ginning.”
During the harvest season, the Lockhart Gin runs 24 hours a day. However, they had to stop while firefighters battled the blaze and a hazardous materials (HazMat) team examined the property.
In the past, the gin stored a variety of chemicals in the warehouse. Recently, the chemicals were moved to another location, leaving the warehouse for storage for extra parts, including motors for the gin.
It is likely that those motors played a part in the smoke cloud that hung over Lockhart for much of Saturday evening, as well as the concern about the groundwater.
Sources in the Lockhart Fire Department said the proximity of the warehouse to the creek that runs through several of the community’s parks was a factor in the necessity for the HazMat team.
They were concerned that, along with the run-off from the fire hoses, some oil or other contaminants could have run into the water.
However, Schulle stated the HazMat team was satisfied with their cleanup efforts, which began around 7 a.m. on Sunday and continued until near noon.
“They did some checking and some testing,” he said. “Some of the samples they took are here, sealed up, but as far as we know, everything is okay as far as that goes.”
The gin was back up and running at full capacity by 1:30 p.m. on Sunday.
Nothing was left of the warehouse after the blaze was finally extinguished. In prior seasons, the gin has used the building to store cotton seed through the winter, but Schulle does not know yet if the gin will rebuild the warehouse.
“Honestly, I haven’t even talked to the insurance people about it yet,” he said. “We’ve been so busy that we haven’t had a chance to really think about it, but I imagine we’ll do something.”
On Tuesday, the Lockhart Fire Marshal, Mark Baker, had not determined the cause of the fire, Schulle said.
Baker could not be reached for comment prior to press time.