MIDDLEPORT — An early-morning fire destroyed a major production site at Barden Homes on Tuesday.

Fire crews responded to Barden and Robeson Corp., 103 Kelly Ave., just before 4 a.m. and found the plant’s wall department, a building on the east side of the property, up in flames.

Middleport Fire Chief Matt Herriven said it took about two and a half hours to get the fire under control.

Fire crews from surrounding areas, including Hartland, Gasport, Terry’s Corners, Wolcottsville, Medina and Albion, responded to the scene to assist.

No one was inside the building at the time of the fire, and there were no injuries.

Plant Foreman Dan Wissinger said the fire has dealt a devastating blow to the company.

“It’s a big loss,” he said, “It’s the main part of the plant, actually.”

Based in Middleport, Barden and Robeson Corp. manufactures homes, churches and other commercial buildings. Wissinger said the building is where workers frame and build walls for building projects.

Barden was founded in 1909 as a wheel manufacturer and has been located in Middleport for the last 50 years.

Earlier this year, the company built a new 14,000 square-foot administrative building and announced plans to expand production.

Normally, eight to 10 people would work in the wall department building during the day, Wissinger said, but no one was there at the time of the fire because the plant was closed for the night.

“It’s a little upsetting,” he said, surveying the damage Tuesday morning. “It’s all just a little shell-shocked right now.”

Herriven said he knew the fire would be bad from the beginning.

“I pulled out of my driveway and saw the glow,” he said.

Steve Cooley, Middleport assistant fire chief, said the original call was for a possible model home fire.

“I was hoping it would be a small fire,” he said, though when he arrived on scene, “the flames were through the roof.”

“You really couldn’t tell which building was burning,” he added.

Between 80 and 100 firefighters were eventually on scene, with both aerial trucks and hand lines used to control the flames, Cooley said. One concern was making sure the fire didn’t spread to nearby propane tanks, so firefighters hosed the tanks down to ensure they stayed cool.

The metal roof dropped down in the center of the building, making it tough to fight the fire underneath, Cooley said.

Now, fire investigators are going through the rubble to try and determine what caused the fire.

“We’re letting them get in there and dig and sift and take pictures,” Cooley said.

Contact April Amadon at 439-9222, Ext. 6251.

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