Salem cabinet business destroyed in blaze

Crews battle a three-alarm fire that broke out at Elite Cabinets Plus in Salem, Ore., on Wednesday, July 10, 2013. (KOIN 6 News)
Crews battle a three-alarm fire that broke out at Elite Cabinets Plus in Salem, Ore., on Wednesday, July 10, 2013. (KOIN 6 News)

SALEM, Ore. (KOIN) – Fire investigators won’t know for a while what caused a three-alarm blaze that destroyed a Salem cabinet makers business late Wednesday night.

The remains of a fire at Elite Cabinets Plus in Salem, Ore. Thursday, July 11, 2013. (Dean Barron/KOIN 6 News)
The remains of a fire at Elite Cabinets Plus in Salem, Ore. Thursday, July 11, 2013. (Dean Barron/KOIN 6 News)

The fire broke out at around 10:30 p.m. at Elite Cabinets Plus, 4235 27th Ct. SE. Salem Fire Department officials said crews remained on scene all day Thursday to check for hot spots.

A passerby spotted the fire and called it in. As crews battled it, the metal roof collapsed. That made it difficult to fight the fire underneath in all the wood, paint and shellac.

Rick Wiatt, who owns the business, also lost two race cars in the blaze.

“We’ve been through a rough five years,” he said. “We turned a corner. Now this.”

Wiatt grew the cabinetry business, which his father began, in a 17,000-square foot building. But the business closed when the economy soured.

He brought it back to life and grew the business from two employees to 12. So far, 2013 was the best year ever, with 20 custom orders in progress. Two of those orders were to be delivered this week.

“It’s going to be a rough one. My whole life is here. Everything we’ve had. There’s got to be a reason for it,” he said. “The toughest part is coming down and seeing it all go up. I grew up here. My kids grew up here. It’s tough.”

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