In the week and a half since its Goldsboro facility went up in flames, Richards Building Supply -- known locally as Eastern Aluminum Supply -- has been doing all it can to care for its employees and customers.
No injuries were reported when the builder's supply company -- roofing, cabinets, windows, doors, etc. -- located in the 300 block of Oak Forest Road caught fire April 13.
Since then, the dozen or more employees have been coordinating with corporate officials to continue to fill local orders and to manage the recovery, still in its early stages, vice president of operations Ronald Guzior said.
"We lost our building. We lost a lot of assets. We lost our ability to serve (our customers) like they usually are from day to day, but we want to let them know we are still open," Guzior said.
He said the Illinois-based company has locations across the U.S., and the building that burned is the former Eastern Aluminum Supply, acquired in the last few years by Richards Building Supply and now operated under the parent company's eastern division.
Despite the fire, Guzior said, the company remains open for business.
"We've still got the back corner of the lot. We've still got a lot of inventory, and we still have the means to be able to take care of them as we work through dealing with the leftover building and remains there."
Firefighters responded to calls of a possible structure fire to find the building partially engulfed in flames and thick, black smoke billowing high into the air. The threat of exploding propane tanks still inside the building coupled with the large amount of smoke forced nearby traffic to be rerouted.
"My first order of business was to ensure that no one was still inside and to get fire trucks in position to contain the large blaze," Goldsboro Assistant Fire Chief Frank Sasser said.
His shift was working the day of the fire, and Sasser was among the first wave of firefighters to arrive on scene. Three additional fire departments responded as mutual aid to back up the city units already deployed to fight the fire.
At the time of the blaze, there were nine employees inside the building, all of whom made it safely, Sasser said.
Firefighters were able to keep the blaze from spreading next door to the nearby church. Cornerstone Evangelical Presbyterian Church purchased the property two days before the fire.
Sasser said that the new ladder truck the department recently purchased, Tower 1, played a big role in keeping fire contained to one building.
He also said that the cause of the fire remains under investigation.
Fire officials have said that the business is a total loss and estimate the damage to be at $6.1 million. They also said that because of the age of the building, there was not a sprinkler system inside. Building codes today require them.
Guzior said it was "way too soon" for the company to have fully assessed the damage so he could not verify those estimates.
"We're in the midst of going through inventory counts right now, through asset list and valuations and reordering stuff. It will probably be a couple of weeks before we see something like that," he said, referring to an official tally of financial losses.
Employees, meanwhile, are either busily engaged in filling orders, either by being driven by the company to other nearby branches or working at the remaining back lot where inventory at the Goldsboro facility survived the blaze.
"Other branches are making deliveries direct for us, the inside staff is set up in the warehouse already with a couple of terminals. Our IT team was on the spot and had stuff there, so they were ready to open shop on Monday morning with brand new equipment," Guzior said.
He said the Goldsboro employees affected by the fire are a "band of brothers and sisters" who are "all looking out for each other."
Guzior also thanked the neighboring businesses and employees which helped out by bringing food and water to the fire site to help care for the first responders -- firefighters, medics and law enforcement -- who responded.
"You love every part of that."