A December 19th fire at Carter Brothers Manufacturing Company on U. S. Highway 231 South near Brundidge destroyed the assembly/paint shop building. Due to the quick response of company personnel, no one was injured.
An investigation of the fire has identified the area in which the fire originated; however, the specific cause of the fire can not be determined. Investigators from the State Fire Marshals Office know the fire was first observed at the rear of the 55,000 square foot building near a corner of the oven used to dry unpainted and painted go cart frames and parts.
Much of the building and contents in this area were metal, however, some combustible construction and materials were also present. Through a process of elimination, the cause of the fire was determined to be accidental; however, due to the extensive damage the specific cause could not be determined.
Examination of electrical wiring in the area where the fire was first seen exhibited signs of shorting, however, whether this damage occurred before or during the fire is unknown. No evidence was found to explain how the wiring insulation could have been damaged prior to the fire, allowing electrical conductors to short and start the fire. Likewise, eyewitness reports failed to develop any additional information typically expected when wiring shorts out.
Witnesses reported a loud explosion during the fire, not uncommon in most large fires. In this particular case, the explosion was a large carbon dioxide fire extinguisher rupturing during the fire. Debris from the extinguisher knocked a hole in the concrete slab of the building as well as the rear metal wall separating the assembly/paint shop building from the water treatment building. A portion of the base of the extinguisher also penetrated the rear wall of the oven.