Reef Innovations loses money and memories in Wednesday fire

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Larry Beggs is still trying to put a price tag on the damage.

All the templates used to create hundreds of molds for Reef Innovations' patented "Reefball" designs were destroyed Wednesday during a fire that shut down parts of Martin Luther Kind Blvd in Sarasota.

"Every mold that we have, we can't make any more right now," says the president of Reef Innovations. "We have to start from scratch like we did 24 years ago."

The man the company has used for years to make fiberglass molds was working on two brand-new templates for an out-of-state job just 3 weeks away. Beggs is hoping one half-burned mold salvaged from the wreckage can help meet that deadline.

"That's the one that survived, and the most important one with the new stuff that we're doing," says Beggs.

Reefball says their worker escaped the blaze, but suffered mild 2nd degree burns after running back in to save his dog.

Beggs says there are no plans to replace him as their fiberglass guy.

"Unless he's tired and done now, I don't know, I haven't had a chance to sit with him personally yet," he says.

It's not all business. The fire also took away one of Larry's fondest memories, a 1984 Grady-White boat he bought during a job with reef innovations decades ago. The boat was in for paint and body work, just one day away from returning to his garage.

Beggs has yet to visit the warehouse himself, concerned the scene will be overwhelming.

"It's the finality," he says. "Pictures are one thing, but once I go over there and actually see the mess and see the boat, it's going to be (pause) something I don't want to see."

Beggs and those in neighboring warehouses suspect the fire was started by portable heaters being used to warm the shop that afternoon.