Agri-Nutrients Owner Discusses Fire

Monday, March 2nd 2009, 5:32 pm
By: News On 6

By Jeffrey Smith, The News On 6

TULSA, OK - There is new information about what started Saturday's massive fire at a Port of Catoosa business.  The owner of the fertilizer company says he knows what started the blaze. The building is a total loss, leaving the fate of a dozen workers in peril.

The name of the fertilizer company totaled in the fire is Agri-Nutrients.  They're a small business that's been around for 17 years. The owner says they will rebuild, sooner than you might think.

The ashes are still smoldering.  The investigation is under way.  Dozens of firefighters battled the blaze for more than two hours.  The Port's director calls it heartbreaking.

02/28/2009  Related Story:  Crews Respond To Port of Catoosa Structure Fire

"During these slow economic times, to have any one of our customers experience something like this, it's just, it's just truly sad," said Port Director Bob Portiss.

Agri-Nutrients employs a dozen workers.  But, underneath the twisted metal, comes some good news.

"We're going to keep every single person on payroll as long as we possibly can. And, if we can get it up and running in our temporary operations, then we won't have to let anybody off," said Agri-Nutrients owner Jim Montgomery.

Some of the workers are already back on the job.

"We have some of their administrative people in our office building today, to continue on the best they can with business," said Port Director Bob Portiss.

Investigators are still trying to piece together exactly what happened,

The company ships about 2,000 tons of dry fertilizer out of the port every year

"For partial operations, we hope to be running next week, of course at a different location," said Agri-Nutrients owner Jim Montgomery.

The company's owner says he knows what caused the fire.

"It appears that it was a fire that started in one of the bins of organic fertilizer, that didn't involve electricity or fuel or anything of that nature," said Agri-Nutrients owner Jim Montgomery.  "They go through a heat, and that heat, combined with high winds, could have generated that fire by itself."

Montgomery says he hopes to be up and running at full strength by the end of the summer.

The Oklahoma State Fire Marshal's Office has not confirmed the report that the fire started inside a fertilizer bin.  They're only saying that the fire here is still under investigation.

Montgomery says he hopes to resume operations at a temporary facility next week.