A Rochester electronics manufacturer that suffered a Christmas Eve fire won’t be able to reopen Wednesday. Instead, general manager Michael Schlehr said a few workers will be cleaning up and assessing the damage from a two-alarm fire Monday at Coast to Coast Circuits, 205 La Grange Ave. Firefighters responded to an automatic alarm at around 4:30 p.m. Monday. Smoke was visible when the first crew arrived. A second alarm was called at 4:54 p.m. and a level 0 hazmat emergency also was called. The fire was under control at 5:36 p.m.
The business, which employs nearly 40 people, was closed for Christmas Eve. “Nobody was hurt,” Schlehr said. “Nobody was affected physically. We’re thankful about that. In terms of the business, we’re very saddened. It’s a very tight-knit group of people.” The facility is the New York division for Coast to Coast Circuits, which according to its website makes advanced printed circuit boards. Customers include the aerospace, defense, semiconductor, medical and wireless industries. It was founded in 1974 and was called Metro Circuits before being rebranded a few years ago. A division opened in Huntington Beach, California, in the early 1980s. In 1989, the two operations were incorporated into one privately held company, according to the website.
Schlehr, who also is chief financial officer of the company, said that 18 months ago, the ownership group was talked out of closing the La Grange site. Schlehr said the company downsized and turned things around. “Over the last 18 months we came together and did a great job. We became profitable consistently and the ownership group has really noticed that. We banded together and functioned as a team. It’s sad to see this happen.”
The building’s sprinkler system put out most of the fire. “I can’t say enough about the city firefighters,” Schlehr said. “They were fabulous. They were there in force and strong. They kept us apprised all the time. They were very safe.”
Schlehr said he initially thought things weren’t too bad. “When you get in there, there’s a lot of damage. The smoke and the residue left by the smoke is very damaging to electronic equipment and circuit boards, and that’s our business.” He said it may take several days to determine the condition of the high-tech and precision manufacturing equipment and the finished products. “Unless it’s perfect, it’s unshippable,” he said. “That’s a concern.”
Schlehr said it’s too soon to know what caused the fire. According to a fire department news release, the fire began in the plate room. Fire spread to the roof, overhead vents and PVC pipes, compromising containers of sulfuric acid. The hazmat emergency was declared because water came into contact with the acid. Firefighters entered and contained the leaks.