Originally created 02/11/99

Carlisle rebuilding warehouse

AIKEN -- For two weeks in November, the warehouse of Carlisle Tire and Wheel burned and smoldered as firefighters spent Thanksgiving fighting the blaze.

Next month, the company plans to finish a new warehouse on the same site, and it will be safer than the first, said Rick McKinnish, president of the company.

"It's been a disaster, but it has had a happy ending," he said.

Like the old warehouse, the new one will be 100,000 square feet, but the new one has a fire wall separating it into halves. The existing fire wall that separates the warehouse from the factory has been rebuilt and upgraded. The company also has changed the way it stacks the tires, in order to remove more flammable materials from the storage area, Mr. McKinnish said.

The old wooden skids that held the tires have been replaced by steel, and cardboard has been eliminated from the warehouse. The company has cut a new access road behind the warehouse, so fire trucks can reach all sides, Mr. McKinnish said.

The warehouse first caught fire Nov. 19, eventually collapsing the roof of the $15 million facility. The warehouse was new and had passed its inspections, company officials said.

There were other fires started after the main fire at the warehouse was extinguished. Police arrested Danny M. Fields, a former Carlisle employee, and charged him with second-degree arson in connection with one of the smaller fires. There are no other arson charges against him, and none are planned at this time, said Lt. Michael Frank, spokesman for the Aiken County Sheriff's Office.

Mr. Fields is no longer in custody at the Aiken County Detention Center, and Lt. Frank describes the investigation as "open and ongoing."

In the meantime, Carlisle has rented warehouse space. The company's manufacturing operations in Aiken were unharmed in the fire.

"It's been a pretty bad experience, but we've retained all our customers and we've been able to provide them service," Mr. McKinnish said.


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