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A marble manufacturing plant burned to the ground in a fire that started late Sunday.
Gatza Corp., located on Dallas Cherryville Highway just outside Cherryville, lost one of two structures to a fire that drew 19 fire tankers to the scene.
A neighbor who was up cooking started to smell a strong odor about 11:20 p.m. Sunday. The person went outside and saw smoke billowing from the Gatza manufacturing building, according to the fire marshal's office.
Firefighters battled the flames, venturing to the center of the building. But when burning chemicals produced too much heat, they backed out and started trying to contain the fire from the outside.
By 11 a.m. Monday, caution tape surrounded the burning rubble. The ground surrounding the shell of a building was marshy from all of the water used to extinguish the blaze. The loading dock at the business looked like a pond.
The rubble was still too hot for investigators to take much action Monday morning.
Firefighters dumped more water at the site Monday afternoon, and investigators hoped to get in and determine the cause shortly after.
Bob Gatza, his family and some of his employees milled around as investigators worked to find the cause of the fire.
The Gatza Corp. office building is located at 7507 Dallas Cherryville Highway. The manufacturing plant sits behind the office along a side road, R&S Access Road.
A marble man from the age of 19, Gatza started the business in 1996.
The local business makes, manufactures and installs marble products used in bathrooms and kitchens. It services more than 350 consumers in North and South Carolina, according to the business's website.
Bob Gatza and his wife, Sarah, live in Cherryville, and Sarah works as the office manager.
The company employs nearly 20 people.
Eddie Shultz of Lincolnton stood outside of the building Monday morning. He's worked as an installer for the company since the first year the business opened.
Shultz said he got a call in the middle of the night. He watched the mayhem. The site was devastating, he said.
But Bob Gatza said he's not throwing in the towel. The business is insured. Gatza was starting communications Monday with his insurance company.
Once he's got a grasp on his options, Gatza said it'll be time to make some decisions.
Gatza said he's already heard from some local people with ideas of where he could resume manufacturing for the time being.
"We're just looking at our options right now," he said. "It's been a setback."
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