Fire burns shed on property of Billings Pepsi distributor

2012-03-28T19:46:00Z 2014-08-25T23:53:25Z Fire burns shed on property of Billings Pepsi distributorBy CARMEN DAYE IRISH The Billings Gazette

UPDATE: Mike Dimich, whose family owns the Pepsi-Cola Bottling Co., said a Wednesday night fire that destroyed a shed on the property and damaged a warehouse and several antique cars will not impact operations at the business.

The fire damaged about five of the 30 cars in the warehouse but Dimich said he should be able to restore them.

Deputy Fire Marshal Jeff McCullough estimated damage from the fire at $200,000.

Its cause has not yet been determined and Billings fire officials continue to investigate.

Billings firefighters quickly doused a shed fire at the Pepsi-Cola Bottling Co. on Wednesday night.

Several calls about smoke and large flames at the building came in shortly before 7:30 p.m. Firefighters arrived to find a large wood shed that leans against the Pepsi building, located at 344 Howard Ave., glowing red as it burned.

Firefighters were able to get most of the flames out within a few minutes, Fire Chief Paul Dextras said.

Four fire engines, two ladder trucks and 16 firefighters responded. Four Billings police officers also responded for traffic control at the intersections of Cook and Montana avenues and Fourth Street West.

Battalion Chief Phil White said the fire extended a little into the back portions of the main bottling building, which contained about 30 vintage cars, two of which caught fire.

"It had the potential to spread to that warehouse and the potential to damage a lot of those cars," he said. "Our guys really did a good job getting it out as fast as they could."

Bill Dimich, a Pepsi-Cola Bottling Co. employee and member of the family-owned business, said the cars are part of a collection of Pepsi delivery cars dating to 1926, the year the family went into business.

White said the shed was filled with cardboard and appears to be a total loss.

Shortly after the fire was contained, smoke continued to billow from the structure as firefighters surrounded it and used power saws to get into the main bottling building.

"Now that the fire is out, we are in ventilation and investigation mode," Dextras said.

He said it is unknown whether the building was occupied when the fire started. No injuries were reported.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Damage from the fire totaled about $200,000 and the owner has insurance.

The business, which has operated at the Howard Avenue location since 1954, employs about 74 employees, Dimich said.

Copyright 2014 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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