Members of the New Sharon, Brooklyn and Montezuma fire departments fight the fire at Ponderosa Supply on Tuesday, April 19. The fire destroyed half of the company’s buildings, a vehicle and contents.
By J.O. Parker
Owners of a long-time Montezuma business plan to rebuild their business after it suffered extensive damage from a fire that struck on Tuesday, April 19.
Ponderosa Supply, 291 Woodland Road at Lake Ponderosa, lost half of the company’s buildings and a vehicle in the fire that was first reported at 10:30 a.m.
After arriving on the scene, Montezuma Fire Chief Bill Bolen said it was determined that mutual aid was needed.
Fire departments from Grinnell, Malcom, Brooklyn, Searsboro and New Sharon aided Montezuma in fighting the blaze. A total of six fire departments and sixteen fire trucks were observed at the scene fighting the blaze.
It was stated by a member of the Ahrens family, who owns the business, that the fire was believed to have started east of the facility’s buildings and moved west. Outbuildings and lumber stored outside east of the headquarters building were destroyed but firemen prevented the fire from reaching the main building. A family member noted that it only took 15 minutes for the fire to go through the entire building on the east side.
Ponderosa Supply was started in 1979 by Bill and Jane Ahrens. Bill has been running the business with his family for 43 years. The company specializes in home and kitchen design and supplies and also pole buildings in the agriculture and home storage areas. The business serves customers in a 70-mile radius from Lake Ponderosa.
“The Montezuma Fire Department and surrounding county fire departments did an amazing job showing up quickly and helping put the fire out quickly,” said Bill. “We had more than 40 firefighters, mostly volunteers, and people we know. It’s a humbling thing to see your customers and neighbors coming and helping so quickly. The Montezuma Fire Department said that they couldn’t believe how many volunteers showed up to help.”
“That’s what people do in a small community, we help each other,” Bill said. “This is the second time fire has affected our family as we lost our home in 1988. With five children, we had many people who helped us out at that time and donated blankets and food to us. We are so thankful for our community helping us out.”
Bill said he and his family will start clean up and rebuilding as soon as possible.
“We plan to rebuild as we need much more space to hold materials for the homes and buildings we have sold for this spring,” said Bill.
Bill said he and his family appreciate and send thanks to those who prayed and sent condolences following the fire.
“We hope to rebuild better and as soon as we can to continue serving our customers locally and in the surround area,” Bill said.
There were no injuries from the fire. The cause of the fire and value of loss have yet to be determined. Firefighters were on the scene for five hours.
Editor’s note: Roger Allen contributed to this story.
Montezuma Firefighters discuss their next operation as mutual aid firemen from New Sharon extinguish the remains of a storage building at Ponderosa Supply on Tuesday, April 19. The fire destroyed half of the company’s building, a vehicle and contents. Firefighters were able to save the main headquarters office.
Firefighters put out hot spots during the fire that struck Ponderosa Supply on Tuesday, April 19.
Charred lumber is piled up as Brooklyn firemen work in an area at the Ponderosa Supply fire on Tuesday, April 19.