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Fire leaves 20 workers without job (video)

By Sonny Long
Oct. 8, 2013 at 5:08 a.m.
Updated Oct. 9, 2013 at 5:09 a.m.

Precision Saddle Tree was on fire Monday morning. One employee was in the building at the time but was not injured. Twenty employees worked there.

Teen records blaze

Karlie Stehle, 15, admits to being scared.

The Yoakum High School sophomore stood on the porch of her Migl Street home before daybreak Monday morning and watched as nearby Precision Saddle Tree was consumed by flames.

"I was afraid it would spread to my house, and we would lose everything," she said.

Karlie's mother, Cindie Stehle, saw the fire first.

"I heard something go boom," said Stehle. "I looked out and saw the fire. It was terrible. I woke up my daughter. She was scared. We sat on the back porch and watched it."

As Karlie watched, she turned on her iPhone, taking still photographs as well as video of the blaze.

"I was nervous. I didn't get too close," she said.

YOAKUM - Twenty workers are now without a job after a fire Monday destroyed Precision Saddle Tree.

"The employees are all full time," said Tom Stevenson, general manager since the company opened in 2008.

The company operated a daytime shift five days a week.

The computer assisted design equipment was monitored after regular daytime hours by a lone employee, Stevenson said.

The company already was considering a relocation before the fire destroyed the 1910 building leased from local owners.

"We are growing and planning to move," said Stevenson. "The new building is 80 percent ready."

"We want to get in the new building as fast as we can, but there's no set timetable," he said.

The new location is on Industrial Loop near the airport.

Precision Saddle Tree is a separate corporation associated with Circle Y Saddles in Yoakum, said Mark Jamelka, executive vice president and chief operation officer of Circle Y.

"We have some inventory, so we are OK for the short term," Jamelka said.

"Circle Y is also our biggest customer, but we distribute to other saddle makers in this area, in Texas and across the nation and internationally," said Stevenson.

He said the company's payroll is about $500,000 annually.

"We have some insurance issues to finalize and equipment to purchase and get back into place doing what we love to do and that's make saddle trees."

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