Cause of fire at Cleveland, Tenn., manufacturer being investigated

Cause of fire at Cleveland, Tenn., manufacturer being investigated

August 23rd, 2013 by Paul Leach in Local Regional News

Cleveland, Tenn., fire inspectors Gil Frederick, left, and Craig Foote pull down hanging debris at the Polymer Components facility, which burned Thursday morning.

Photo by Paul Leach/Times Free Press.

CLEVELAND, Tenn. - An investigation into the cause of an early morning Thursday fire that destroyed a Cleveland manufacturer and knocked out cable TV service to 150 customers is continuing.

"Until the investigation is complete, the site is treated as a crime scene," said Gil Frederick, a fire inspector with the Cleveland Fire Department who was placing yellow barrier tape across a rear entrance to the site Thursday.

Firefighters responded to the two-alarm blaze at Polymer Components at 12:26 a.m. and worked for more than two hours to get it under control, said Bobby Gaylor, a battalion chief with the Cleveland Fire Department.

The 28,000-square-foot structure at 201 20th St. SE was a total loss, Gaylor said. An incident report is expected to be completed in a few days, he said.

Polymer Components produces custom-made rubber, injection molding and polyurethane components. The company has about two dozen employees and has operated in Cleveland for 15 years, according to news reports and its website.

Recently hired firefighters tended the burn site from 8-11 a.m., quenching any remaining hot pockets and wrapping up, Lt. Dennis Duggins of the Cleveland Fire Department said.

"There is no better classroom than a burned site," he said.

The fire also resulted in the loss of Charter Cable services for 150 customers south of the burned facility, said Frankie Dale, a contractor coordinator who works with the cable company and was on site to review the damage. The outage affected residents, businesses and the Bradley County Justice Center, he said.

Once firefighters left, cable crews were given access to the site to make repairs.

No power lines were affected by the fire, said Bart Borden, vice president of Cleveland Utilities' electric division. A field inspector was on the scene in the early morning, he said.

"We were very fortunate," Borden said. "The only customer who lost power was the business that burned."

Company owner Ralph Brett could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Paul Leach is based in Cleveland. Email him at paul.leach.press@gmail.com.