CALDWELL -- Firefighters from around the Treasure Valley were called to Caldwell early this morning to fight a large fire that burned for several hours and destroyed a building.
The employee gym at the Crookham Company in Caldwell is now gutted and mostly gone, but firefighters did manage to save two buildings that stood nearby.
When firefighters arrived on scene just before 5 a.m. they found flames and smoke inside the gym.
Caldwell Fire Chief Mark Wendelsdorf said fire crews had to force entry through locked doors to begin fighting the fire. He says they quickly pulled out after realizing how dangerous the situation was.
"We could see with our thermal imagers we could see that we had a very extensive fire inside the building," Wendelsdorf told KTVB. "We backed our crews out, and went into defensive mode at this time."
Wendelsdorf said the building's older, timber-frame construction provided a "fuel rich" environment not typically seen in newer buildings.
No one was inside the gym. Firefighters used two ladder trucks to dump water on the flames.
"Each of those water trucks will flow about a thousand gallons a minute, so right there that's about 2,000 gallons," said Wendelsdorf.
Crews from Eagle, Star and Nampa were called in to help keep the fire from spreading to nearby buildings. And a mobile command unit was also brought in to help manage crews.
"As the incident begins to escalate, as we have more and more resources dedicated to the incident, we need more room to spread out and make sure everybody is accounted for all the time," said Wendelsdorf.
No firefighters were injured while battling the blaze.
Plant manager Kerry Pagenkopf told us that Crookham Company has been in business for more than a century.
"Fortunately it looks like the fire was just contained to a small area and a gym at that, so we're planning on resuming production later today," said Pagenkopf.
Crookham Company ships corn seed and onion seed around the world.
The gym was destroyed but employees say if something had to go, that's the best option. Employees just can't work out there for quite some time.
Firefighters are expected to be on the scene dousing hot spots and cleaning up until at least noon.
No word yet on what ignited the fire. Investigators are looking into the cause.
Meanwhile, several streets have been blocked in the area due to the heavy equipment being used, including several large ladder trucks.
Click on the interview below to watch KTVB Reporter Bonnie Shelton's full interview with Chief Mark Wendelsdorf.