Fire consumes city business
A portable-toilet company, Bestway Services, sustained a major blow Monday when much of its equipment burned in a fast-moving fire. However, owners said they plan to rebuild the business.
Authorities with the Grand Junction Fire Department on Monday night were still investigating the cause of the blaze, which gutted a large commercial building at 735 Fourth Ave. The space served as the operational headquarters for Bestway, which offers drain service, septic tank pumping and portable toilet service.
Bestway Services’ owners, Chris Boss and Ken Powell, estimate they lost 200 portable toilets, three service trucks, one service van and a 3,000-gallon pumping truck to the fire. A Terralift, which is a piece of machinery valued at $60,000 and designed to repair leach fields, also was burned in the fire, owners said.
“We’ve got to open back up somehow,” Boss said. “We’re lucky it didn’t affect anybody else other than it did.”
A next-door building is operated by Orkin, a company that kills pests with chemicals and stores some of those chemicals on site.
Powell and Boss purchased the company in August 2004 and are leasing about half of the building’s 12,000-square-foot space from building owners Dusty Rummel, Marc Henessee and Joe Luff.
Bestway, which they said is the largest toilet provider in the Grand Valley, has been in business since the early 1970s. It provides services to the area’s festivals and other events. The company has one employee, who works overtime during busy weekends. Bestway owners said they will continue to operate the business, though they will have to seek a new space.
“We just have to. This is our home,” Boss said.
Damage was estimated at $1.5 million for the fire that was the largest in the Grand Valley since a building housing KREX-TV burned down in January 2008, said spokesman Mike Page of the Grand Junction Fire Department. Damage was estimated at $6 million in that blaze.
The fire was reported about 4:30 a.m. by passersby, and crews worked for hours to knock down the blaze, he said. No one was injured.
Firefighters used two ladder trucks to pour water on the fire for several hours and brought in a sand truck because the water was turning to ice. Crews from Xcel Energy responded because power lines came down in front of the building, Page said.
“It was pretty much fully involved when (firefighters) got there,” he said. “They went quickly to a defensive mode because there wasn’t much to save at that point.”
The building had been for sale and the half not used by Bestway was up for lease. Business owners said if the building was sold they would have been able to stay in the building under conditions of the sale.
“We had people next week to look at it,” Henessee said.
Rummel, owner of Rummel Electric Inc., said he had the electrical wiring updated in the building in 1992, the year he and the other co-owners purchased it. The building was made of stacked, empty World War II ammunition boxes that were covered in stucco. It appeared the building had undergone an addition and crews incorporated a utility pole into the structure.
Arson investigator Doug Lucas said the pole was not being used as a power source. It appears the fire started at the building’s east end, which is the area in which Bestway operated.
The building at one time was the home to an auto body shop and once housed railroad equipment, the owners said. It was valued at $606,920, according to the Mesa County Assessor’s Office.
Rummel and Henessee, who were onsite early Monday morning watching firefighters spray down the building, appeared distraught.
“You never think it’s going to happen to you,” Rummel said.
— Staff writer Mike Wiggins contributed to this report.