After a devastating March 2018 fire that destroyed its Lititz-area plant, Specialty Bakers initially said it planned to rebuild and rehire the more than 100 workers idled by the closure.

That’s no longer the plan.

The property has been sold to a neighboring company, and a recent civil lawsuit is seeking more than $39.5 million from a York firm that supplied equipment an insurer blames for the blaze.

Specialty Bakers, which is based in Marysville, Perry County, did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday.

But according to New York-based Stonebridge Partners, which lists Specialty among its portfolio companies, it is not planning on rebuilding in Lititz.

In an emailed statement, Stonebridge said Specialty acquired a 130,000-square-foot plant in Georgia in March, noting that the Lititz fire resulted in the loss of approximately 70% of Specialty's revenues.

Specialty had issued an emailed statement the day of the fire that it was seeking alternate product sources “until we can rebuild our Lititz plant, and we will rebuild.” It reiterated the message about a week and a half later.

Stonebridge principal Stephen Hanna said in an email Wednesday that despite not rebuilding the burned plant, Specialty transferred "a substantial amount of the Lititz employees" to its Marysville plant, and is retaining all of its corporate staff in Marysville.

County records show the 12.6-acre property at 560 Furnace Hills Pike, just north of Lititz, sold for $1.5 million to Sauder Realty Co. in January.

That’s the real estate arm of R.W. Sauder Inc., which is based next door at 570 Furnace Hills Pike, also known as Route 501.

R.W. Sauder president and CEO Mark Sauder declined comment Wednesday.

The property is zoned industrial and no plans have been filed for it, according to Warwick Township manager Daniel Zimmerman.

Extensive damage

Fire officials initially estimated damage at about $8 million, but the the company’s insurer said in a civil complaint last month that it has paid Specialty Bakers more than $39.5 million for property damage and business interruption from the blaze.

The lawsuit, filed by the Connecticut-based Charter Oak Fire Insurance Company, blames York-based Yorkaire Inc. for the fire, saying it was responsible for the equipment that caused the fire.

Yorkaire did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday.

LNP records show that Specialty Bakers acquired the plant, formerly home of Oehme Bakery, in 1998 and more than doubled its size to 72,000 square feet.

At the time of the blaze, its website indicated that about 140 people worked there; the notice Specialty Bakers filed with the state said it had laid off 102 employees because of the fire.

Previous stories