Green Circle fire won't spoil spring flower production

11:39 PM, Feb 20, 2013   |    comments
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CAMDEN TOWNSHIP -- We get a closer look at the damage left behind by a massive fire that swept through one of the largest suppliers of flowers in the Midwest.

So how will it affect sales and the flower supply for homes and businesses?

Green Circle growers co-owner Scott Giesbrecht joins his 600 employees in a collective look of amazement. Five acres of greenhouse space and a production barn are reduced to rubble.

The loss is in the millions.

"We're seeing some adverse affects already from the smoke and some plants that are resilient and are fine," Giesbrecht said.

Green Circle is one of the largest grower in the Midwest and Ohio.

With more than 100 acres under glass and another 30 acres of field, they produce flowers and ferns for big-box stores, like Home Depot, and grocery stores like Giant Eagle and Heinen's.

On Tuesday, just after 5 p.m. in production Plant#1, hay bales caught fire. 40-mile-an-hour wind gusts helped create an inferno.

The freezing temperatures made it difficult for firefighters. It took ten hours to extinguish the blaze and, 24 hours later, fire crews were still putting out hot spots.

"When a facility goes down, we have two actually three to back it up," Giesbrecht said.

Giesbrecht is counting his blessings. While the damage is great, it amounted to only five percent of the whole operation. There will be no shortage of spring flowers and northeast Ohio consumers shouldn't expect to pay more.

"It would not be like more of a citrus kill in Florida that would decrease supply and increase demand and increase pricing," Giesbrecht said.

Even Wednesday, Giesbrecht met with a general contractor who will be rebuilding the barn. On Thursday, he will meet with a greenhouse architect. As bad as all of it looks, it will be all brand new by mid-summer.


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