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Glass companies respond to California fires

Post Time:Nov 12,2013Classify:Industry NewsView:61

Malibu Glass destroyed in blaze Malibu Glass & Mirror was one of 1,800 homes and 338 commercial buildings destroyed in the California wildfires that burned more than 500,000 acres from Santa Barbara to the Mexican border.

Read an Oct. 25 Glass Magazine report of other glass companies affected by the fires here.

Many southern California glass companies are working overtime on emergency replacements as the region begins to recover from the 23 wildfires that engulfed 500,000 acres from Santa Barbara to the Mexican border. Officials estimate the fires, nine of which are still spreading, have caused $2.5 billion in damages, making it the second most expensive fire disaster in U.S. history after a $2.6 billion California fire in 1991 according to an Oct. 27 Bloomberg article. According to the Bloomberg article, about 1,800 homes and 338 commercial buildings were destroyed in the fires, including Malibu Glass & Mirror. “Ninety-nine percent of our 2 1/2-acre shop burned down on Sunday [Oct. 21],” says Gerald Lemonnier, owner of Malibu Glass. “We lost more than $500,000 worth of inventory and nine vehicles; insurance only covered 60 percent of the loss.” Lemonnier says the company will be back on the property this week and has already bought six new trucks. Officials from other glass companies say they were lucky that the blazes did not hit them directly. The fires forced many shops to close for several days last week. Caldwell Glass Inc., Lakeside, Calif., closed Monday, Tuesday and part of Wednesday because of smoke, says Fiona Caldwell, president. “The air was so bad,” she says. “It worked out fine, since it would have been very difficult for our suppliers to deliver to us with all the road closures.” Kay Hayes, office manager, Quality A.R.G. Inc., San Marcos, Calif., says their office was also closed for two-and-a-half days due to the poor air quality. Doug Hogue, coordinator for the Southwest Carpenters Training Fund, San Diego, says that one out of five SWCTF employees were evacuated from their homes and the training center was shut down. Many area construction jobs also were closed. “More than 60 percent of jobs in the area shut down,” Hogue says. Once companies could operate full force, managers say they immediately began repairs and replacements on damaged homes and businesses. Officials from Seabreeze Glass and Construction Inc. in Poway and Racho Bernardo Glass & Mirror in Rancho Bernardo say demand spiked when people were able to return to their homes. In many cases, the replacements are required for windows and doorlites damaged when firefighters and police check homes to ensure residents have evacuated, says Christy Martin, co-owner of Rancho Bernardo Glass. “People lock their doors when they evacuate, but the police have to make sure no one is there. So, they’ll break whatever is available to get inside,” she says. “We just want to get there as quickly as possible to close up their homes and get them secure.” Martin does not anticipate a shortage of glass to meet the demand. “We’re ordering double-glazed units and have enough in stock to cover what’s needed.” Read more Glass Magazine coverage of the fires here.

—By Katy Devlin, e-newsletter editor, e-glass weekly, with contributions from Lorin Hancock, editorial assistant; Sahely Mukerji, managing editor, Glass Magazine, AutoGlass magazine; Matt Slovick, editor-in-chief, Glass Magazine

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