Explosion, fire destroy countertop company’s facility

TEMPLE – A huge fire following a mysterious explosion may have done what four years of strong growth couldn’t: Shift R.E. Marble & Granite from the end of a narrow, twisty dirt road that is out of the way even by the standards of the town.

“We had thought about moving out to (Route) 101, but the building was paid for,” said Chuck Re, who co-owns the business with his wife, Sharon. “Now we’ll be looking for a place, somewhere on 101 from Milford to Bedford.”

R.E. Marble & Granite, at the end of Dutton Lane off Cutter Road, employs about 10 people to make counters for kitchens and bathrooms out of 6- by 10-foot sheets of stone.

The company’s main building, a two-story, 7,000-square-foot structure, was destroyed Tuesday night in a fire. No one was hurt and the cause has yet to be determined, but John Raymond of the state fire marshal’s office said Wednesday it was “not suspicious” in origin.

The fire was reported by the Res from their nearby home after they were startled by an explosion about 9 p.m.

“It shook the whole house,” said Sharon Re.

A security camera filmed a small blaze at the 7,000-square-foot building, which grew slowly until the blast occurred, Re said. The building was burning fiercely by the time Temple firefighters arrived.

“There was nothing they could do,” said Sharon Re. Crews from several area towns were called in to help with tanker trucks.

“Everything was fine at 6:30 when we all left (the building),” she said. “We’re just lucky nobody was in there.”

Propane tanks near the building were not part of the blast.

The Res said employees, customers and even other businesses flocked to help once word of the disaster spread.

“It’s like a family here, it really is,” said Sharon Re.

The fire did an estimated half-million dollars worth of damage, destroying all the company records, machinery and even some trucks. Nonetheless, the couple pledged to get working again as early as this weekend.

“(Sharon) didn’t even go to sleep last night – she stayed up to figure things out,” said Chuck Re.

The Res have more than a dozen years experience in the stone countertop business. They moved to the end of Dutton Lane about eight years ago, and when they decided to open their own company, they stayed where they were.

“We figured we’d do two or three kitchens a week, but now we’re doing about 20 a week,” he said.

This has proved interesting at times, because the marble and granite, most ordered from overseas, had to be trucked down the tiny road, and the finished counters had to be trucked back up. Trucks and customers sometimes struggled to find or reach them, said Chuck Re, but that almost added to the allure.

“People get a kick out of it, our being here,” he said.

Nonetheless, he said that when insurance money comes in, they’ll look to rebuild the business in a place that’s a little easier to get to.

David Brooks can be reached at 594-5831 or brooksd@telegraph-nh.com.