The head of Dallas-based C & C Wholesale said arson is the suspected cause of a blaze that gutted the Houston branch of his 11-location distributorship in the late hours of Feb. 12. Company CEO Blake Christian said a break-in at the Houston branch was registered approximately one half hour before a four-alarm fire broke out at the 12,000-square-foot facility, and that investigators found metal security gates sawn open on the scene.

The building contained approximately $650,000 to $700,000 in floor covering inventory, all of which was consumed by flames. No company employees were hurt in the fire, which broke out at approximately 11 p.m., well after business hours. Christian said the company plans to reoccupy the damaged structure once it is rebuilt, a process he estimated would take a year to 18 months to complete.

Christian said that the Houston branch, currently housed in a temporary space adjacent to the gutted facility, soon will move to a space in the same warehouse development. He said the operation will likely remain there until the burned structure is fully rebuilt.