Investigation starts into fire at Swiss Plywood building in Tell City


TELL CITY, Ind. (WEHT) The fire is out at the Swiss Plywood building in Tell City and state fire marshals are starting their investigation into its cause.

The fire leaves some business owners who use the building looking for new places tonight.

“I was actually out of town yesterday and my friends called me to say, ‘We heard there was a fire down there. It’s bad,'” recalled Heather Cross, who owns Dance Haven at the old Swiss Plywood building. The dance studio moved there past September.

“It was way worse than I imagined,” says Cross, describing her reaction to when she saw the fire after getting back in town.

Tell City Fire Chief Greg Linne says it started while workers were demolishing a part of the building and taking out old equipment. Firefighters from Perry, Spencer and Dubois Counties spent most of Wednesday putting it out.

“I started working here in 1946 and stayed until ’56,” recalled Harold Mathena. “It’s a shame to lose something like that and history.”

At least half the building was severely damaged, with parts of it collapsed. Cross’s dance studio only had water and smoke damage. Cross says she’s was able to salvage some things needed for an upcoming christmas show this weekend.

Inside of Dance Haven studio after fire at old Swiss Plywood building in Tell City.

“We are so fortunate that we didn’t lose everything engulfed in flames. I was able to get my dance shoes out today and some other pairs of shoes for the kids,” she said.

Both Cross and Tell City firefighters say one thing that helped prevent further damage to her dance studio was a firewall inside the complex.

State fire marshals interviewed workers who were inside when it started and people with businesses in the building to find the cause, which is undetermined so far.

Chief Linne says the Perry County Port Authority, which owns the building, will decide what to do with damaged building. He adds they noticed a sprinkler system working inside the building, but it was overwhelmed by the fire.

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(This story was originally published on December 12, 2019)

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