Two fires in one night destroy a family business

Quality Paint & Prestained Finishes, Inc., a family run business in Elkhart, was destroyed after two separate fires ravaged the building overnight.

Baugo Twp. Fire Dept. responded to the first fire at around 8:45 p.m. Wednesday night at Quality Paint located at 28827 Old US Highway 33.

Officials said the flames were extinguished within a half hour and the damage was contained to an interior air compressor and room in the center of the building.

Jesse Thrash, the owner of the paint and refinishing company, was told he could go inside and still use the building after the first fire. By Thursday morning, Thrash learned his business was destroyed.

Firefighters were called back to Quality Paint at around 2:45 a.m. Thursday and found flames coming through the roof.

"They weren't sure if it was the whole building, but they went and started a defensive attack to douse it out," said Baugo Twp. fire chief, Chad Carey.

"It was all kinds of paints, a lot of stains, a lot of fuel for the fire so it burned pretty fast and really hot," Care added.

Four departments, including Baugo, Cleveland, Wakarusa and Concord responded to the second fire. It took several hours to extinguish and left the building as a "total loss" according to investigators.

As investigators examined the charred property, Jesse Thrash and his family watched and waited for answers.

Thrash has operated Quality Paint for more than 20 years. He spent the day calling customers and trying to find a new location to rent out until he hears about insurance.

"It's sad," said Thrash.

Thrash's son, also named Jesse, said he believes the fire could've been a lot worse. The business ran out of highly combustible lacquer and paint thinner the day before the fire, most of the material inside Jesse explained was water-based paint, wood, vinyl and metal.

Indiana State fire marshals were called to the scene Thursday to take photos and help determine the cause of both fires. The incident is still under investigation.

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