“It was not the Christmas present we expected or wanted for our team.” Martine Berger said the fire that destroyed the main building at Berger Horticulture at Birthright is especially difficult at this time of year. She said the evaluation of the main building is that it is a complete loss. The Canada based company does intend to re-build, according to Berger.
According to Mike Matthews, Hopkins County Fire Marshall, the cause of the fire is undetermined but there is nothing to raise suspicions as to its cause. ATF assisted in the investigation with technology and manpower. He stated the fire did start in the center of the factory area where the building collapsed. He stated that interviews with employees have been conducted to assist in possible causes for the fire and there are a couple of interviews that remain. He emphasized that there is no suspicion of foul play as a cause for the fire.
Other buildings at the facility are safe, according to Berger. She said no dollar figure has been attached to the loss at the time. Berger told KSST News Thursday, January 3, 2019, that the family owned business is putting together a contingency plan but will meet next week to begin the process of planning for the future of the local facility.
At this time no employee wages have been lost and company officials will meet with employees next week so they will know the solution that will be put in place. She said the company, “…wants to take care of our people”.
Berger said the company is grateful for the quick and effective work of emergency services and the county and area fire departments. She said they also thank the neighbor who reported the fire.
The first call came in Monday at 11:28 a.m. of a possible structure fire at Berger Horticulture located near Birthright on State Highway 19N. The fire was officially under control at 3:20 p.m. Monday, December 24, 2018. Hopkins County Engine 20, Sulphur Springs Fire Department Engine, and North Hopkins Volunteer Fire Department arrived at the scene at the same time. Noting the fire was consuming the front side of the building, an all call was given to all county volunteer departments. County Tankers from surrounding counties–Lamar, Franklin, and Delta–and the City of Commerce responded.
Hopkins County Fire Chief Andy Endsley said the fire could have gone on all night had it not been for the sacrifices of the crews involved. He noted that even though it was Christmas Eve Day when many would be finalizing shopping and family activities, the dedication of county, city, and area firemen kept the fire from escalating to a greater level.