An early afternoon fire on Wednesday at The Vernon Company (asi/351700) caused staff to evacuate, damaged the firm’s executive offices, but spared employees from any injuries. Officials believe the cause of the fire, which began about 12:15 p.m. local time, was a faulty fluorescent light ballast in the second-floor ceiling. Despite the fire, which left significant smoke and water damage, Vernon is open and fully operating today.
“We know this could’ve been worse. It was lunch time, so many of our employees were out of the building. We’re just so grateful that nobody was hurt,” CEO Chris Vernon told Counselor. “I guess if a fire had to happen, it happened at the most opportune time where our people could smell the smoke and direct firefighters to the right place. They didn’t have to search around. If it happened on the weekend, it might’ve burned longer.”
It took three fire departments about 30 minutes to put out the fire. Vernon sent its employees home at 2:00 and then began disaster recovery operations – which included contacting its board members and top suppliers. Employees whose work spaces were affected have been temporarily moved into other areas, like conference rooms. “It’s going to be a little uncomfortable for some of us for about a month,” said Vernon. “All our systems, though, are backed up and we’re looking at this as business as usual.”
Vernon said it’s too early to place a dollar figure on damage, although he expects some spaces will have to be fully remodeled and equipment, like computers, will need to be replaced. “We consider ourselves blessed,” Vernon said. “A little adversity will only make us stronger.”