Quandel Concrete fire ruled accidental

Jan. 9—The cause of the fire at Quandel Concrete on Jan. 3 in Cass Twp. has been ruled accidental.

Trooper John F. Burns, a state police fire marshal, said Monday that he and trooper Joseph Hall made the determination the following day.

Burns said the fire started in "one of the batch areas" of the plant where people were working earlier in the day, although he did not specify the cause of the fire.

Ron Rowlands, whose wife, Bonnie, owns the business with her brother, James Quandel Jr., said workers were welding near the top of the plant, something they had been doing for several days prior to the fire, and that all proper precautions, such as using water to wet down the area, were followed.

Steel bins normally filled with sand and stone were being welded, Rowlands said.

The fire at 9 Schaffer Hill Road was called into the Schuylkill County Communications Center at 4:38 p.m. and extinguished by 7 p.m. Firefighters from 16 Schuylkill County departments responded.

"We have to deal with it and move on," Rowlands said, adding that the business is insured. He previously said they planned to rebuild.

Even though the plant is temporarily closed, workers are busy at the site preparing for reopening.

Rowlands said the company is still waiting on a permit from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to use a portable plant, which would allow some production of concrete until rebuilding efforts are complete.

However, he said, Quandel trucks have been going to Boger Concrete Co. in Lebanon County to obtain concrete for jobs already booked. The Boger facility offered to assist last week after officials heard about the fire.

Established in 1946, James Quandel & Sons Inc. manufacturers ready-mix concrete, colored concrete, retaining wall blocks and concrete accessories.

Contact the writer: amarchiano@republicanherald.com; 570-628-6023