Mangled mess greets Decor boss after fire

By Anna Caldwell

DECOR Blinds co-managing director Phil Jackson said the mangled mess of charred metal that greeted him when the black haze lifted off his Saunders Street factory was not a surprise.

"I've seen it before," Mr Jackson said.

He was referring to the inferno that wrecked the factory about nine years ago.

"No owner should have to see his business go twice to fire," Mr Jackson said.

"Not on the same site."

Dedicated employees arrived at the scene yesterday to see what remained of their former workplace.

The factory was completely destroyed when an inferno ripped through it just after 11am Monday.

Nearby offices in a detached building were not damaged.

WHILE some of the office workers will remain employed, about 35 employees are effectively out of work.

Mr Jackson estimated a rebuild of the factory would take up to six months.

He and fellow managing director Frank Cairns encouraged employees not to "feel overly loyal to the company".

"Basically if they get offered another job, we are encouraging them to take it," Mr Cairns said.

"And naturally we'll be happy to take them back when we rebuild."

Frank's daughter Zoe Cairns, 23, also worked for the company.

"I have grown up in these factories, and I remember the first fire clearly," she said.

"This has broken my heart because I know how much work dad has put into the place."

Just last week Mr Cairns and Mr Jackson celebrated 20 years as business partners.

"We had no idea a big kick in the guts like this was around the corner," Mr Jackson said.

Several businesses stopped by the Saunders Street offices yesterday offering workers new jobs.

Meanwhile, Karen Callaghan was one of the hundreds of residents evacuated from homes in a 300-metre exclusion zone around the fire, after fears over a chemical in the smoke that forms hydrochloric acid when mixed with water.

She and her two sons, Liam, two, and Fraser, three months, left so quickly Mrs Callaghan forgot to lock her home. "With two young boys dangerous fumes are obviously a big concern," Mrs Callaghan said.

"At first the smoke was going straight up and we could see it, but the smell wasn't that bad."

Yesterday about 5pm Ipswich firefighters were called back to the factory site to extinguish hot spots.

A Queensland Fire and Rescue spokeswoman said it was still too early to comment on the fire's cause.

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