Fire destroys doll factory storage
Resin parts, moldings and the original oak carvings of parts for Naber Kids dolls are lost when a storage facility goes up in flames. Fire officials had no idea what started the Friday afternoon blaze.
By SUZANNAH GONZALES, Times Staff Writer
Published October 18, 2003

HOMOSASSA SPRINGS - Paula the Naber Kid doll needs a new right leg. Her foot was chewed off by a dog. And her left leg and arm could use replacing, too. They have bite marks.

A few weeks ago, some possible replacement parts were found in a storage shed near the Naber Kids Doll Factory on U.S. 19. So it looks like the doll in a T-shirt and shorts with two brown burlap braids and airbrushed rosy cheeks might be fixed.

Paula's lucky. But other dolls might not be.

Just after noon Friday, the storage shed that held hundreds and hundreds of replacement doll parts in cardboard boxes - as well as a tent that was attached to the shed - caught fire and burned to the ground.

"I don't know what we're going to do if someone needs a replacement part," said factory manager Chere Wilson. "Just might not be available, period."

Naber Kids - a series of special dolls that many collectors enjoy - are now made out of wood. But those made from the early 1970s to 2000 were made of resin, Wilson explained.

Along with resin doll parts, which the factory doesn't make anymore, moldings and the original oak carvings of the parts also were stored in the shed, she said.

Resin is a material that's part of fiberglass and becomes flammable once it heats up, said Fred Beckner, the county's fire training officer.

Fire officials found out about the blaze when someone walked into the Homosassa fire department to report it. The station is 3 to 5 miles from the Naber operation, Beckner said.

About the same time - 12:15 p.m. - emergency dispatchers received a call.

Along with Citrus County sheriff's deputies, volunteer firefighters from Homosassa, Chassahowitzka and Connell Heights responded to the scene.

When they got there, the building was fully ablaze, Beckner said. No one was thought to be injured.

"We don't know what started it," Beckner said. "We don't have any idea."

- Suzannah Gonzales can be reached at 860-7312 or [email protected]