TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - UPDATE (6:28 p.m.) Smith County Fire is ruling out arson as the cause of the incident that burned the Coker Enterprises office this morning.
According to Smith County Fire Marshal, Jay Brooks, they’re comfortable calling this an accident, but they’re still investigating an exact cause.
Coker Enterprises is an outdoor power equipment dealership. Steve Coker Jr., who works in the family business, says “Nobody knows what happened. At this point, I don’t know if it’ll make a big difference. So, we’re just gonna gather everything up, dig through the rubbles, and rebuild.”
Multiple agencies responded to the fire this morning around 4:20 a.m. Fire Marshal Brooks says firefighters could enter the front of the office but found the fire got heavier the further in they went. The flames forced them out of the building and they shifted into defense.
“We changed our tactic a little bit to try to save the actual business over here where they do their production,” says Brooks.
Although the office was a total loss, the workshop only suffered from smoke damage. They lost all of the new parts stored in the office, bookkeeping, and office supplies.
According to Brooks, “we’re talking about at least a 6 figure loss I believe.”
As of this afternoon, investigations continue to determine the exact cause of the fire. Only hours after the accident, the business is up and running. The Cokers add they were able to save some files and hard drives from the debris saying “we’re not gonna stop working but hopefully we’ll be able to recover some information.”
Coker Enterprises has been serving East Texas for the past 43 years. The Cokers are in the process of cleaning out the remains of the fire so they can get to rebuilding.