Elgin family plans to rebuild business after fire

Nearly 30 years after he started his business near Elgin, Greg Kellenberger is determined to rebuild where a fire destroyed it Wednesday.

Helping him achieve that goal will be his wife, four sons, brother-in-law and nephew, all of whom work at Kellenberger Plumbing & Underground Inc. "We like to keep it in the family," Kellenberger said, laughing.

As for how he remained upbeat after such loss, it's all about faith, Kellenberger said.

"It's not so much how you get into situations but how you get out of them. And the way you get out of them is by the grace of God," he said. "We roll with the punches. Nobody got hurt and we thank God for that."

The cause of the fire at the business at 37W507 Big Timber Road, just west of Randall Road, was electrical in nature and accidental, officials from Rutland-Dundee Township Fire Protection District said.

A 911 call came in before noon Wednesday and everyone evacuated the building by the time firefighters arrived, Fire District Deputy Chief Jeff Meyer said. Firefighters found a lot of fire in the attic of the one-story business, and flames later spread to the main level, Meyer said.

The fire was under control by 2:30 p.m. and 12 fire agencies provided support, including the Elgin Fire Department, he said.

Kellenberger said he's working with his insurance company to recoup the loss, which he estimated at $1.5 million.

Kellenberger started the business in 1991. He and his wife Debbie have four sons - Miles, 30, Landon, 27, and 25-year-old twins Dillon and Taylor - who work for the business that employs about 40 people, he said.

Kellenberger said he wasn't on site when the fire happened. His sons and brother-in-law first noticed sparks coming from electrical wires both outside and inside the building, and got the power shut off within 10 minutes, he said. "By that time things were really up and smoking. It was just out of control in a short of period of time," he said.

Kellenberger praised the work of Rutland-Dundee firefighters. "It was amazing how fast they responded," he said.

The 30-year-old, 9,000-square-foot building was destroyed, along with a skid-steer loader and a variety of construction tools, he said. Fortunately, a computer server and some equipment was taken out of the building before the fire raged, and more equipment was at various job sites, he said.

Kellenberger said he plans to operate out of a temporary location until he rebuilds. "I was down at the permit office today in Kane County trying to see what we have to do," he said.

One of his brothers owns Kellenberger Construction, which is located about 200 feet away on the same property and was not affected by the fire, he said. Another brother owns Kellenberger Electric in Elgin, and relatives own Kellenberger Auto Service in Elgin, he said.

  The cause of the fire at Kellenberger Plumbing & Underground Construction, Inc., 37W507 Big Timber Road, just west of Randall Road, is under investigation, said Rutland-Dundee Township Fire Protection District Deputy Chief Jeff Meyer. Patrick Kunzer/
Rutland-Dundee Township Fire Protection District got a 911 call before noon Wednesday about the fire at Kellenberger Plumbing & Underground Construction, Inc. on Big Timber Road in Elgin. The Elgin Fire Department, pictured here, was among 12 agencies that provided support. Courtesy of Elgin Association of Firefighters Local 439
  Greg Kellenberger started Kellenberger Plumbing & Underground Construction, Inc. in Elgin 30 years ago. His wife, four sons and other relatives work there. Patrick Kunzer/
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