Sirens blared in a Santiago free zone early this morning as firefighters fought a blaze that consumed the William Ventura factory in the Dominican Republic. William Ventura was a small factory known for producing cigars such as Room101 and Caldwell as well as lesser-known brands from companies such as La Barba and the newly formed Freud Cigar Co.
“They have yet to extinguish the fire,” Robert Caldwell of Caldwell Cigars told Cigar Aficionado this morning. “It started before 3 a.m., local time, and as of 10 a.m., local time, it is still burning.”
No injuries have been reported.
The factory is a total loss, according to multiple sources. Caldwell said that includes everything inside. “All inventory, including boxes, rings and finished cigars etc. We lost about 800,000 cigars that were awaiting packaging or aging. The factory’s total was higher.”
A source, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “The building that held two factories, Intercigar and William Ventura, burned down completely around 4 a.m. this morning.” Intercigar S.A. is owned by Maurice Kots. A source tells Cigar Aficionado that Intercigar lost around 700 thousand finished cigars, as well as a large supply of raw materials and tobacco.
Plans have already begun to produce cigars elsewhere. Caldwell says he is working with the Ventura factory to restart production at satellite facilities and at the company’s other cigar factory (El Maestro) in the coming week.
The family-owned factory, which is owned and operated by Wiliiam Ventura, was located in the same industrial free zone as Jochy Blanco’s Tabacalera Palma and PDR Cigars, which is directly next to the fire. The fire did not spread to any adjacent buildings. The factory employed around 100 people and had a little fewer than 40 rollers.
“We at Freud Cigar Co. are deeply saddened by the news this morning that Tabacalera William Ventura has burned down,” says Luís Torres of Freud Cigar. “We will offer our love and support in the coming days to the Ventura family during this trying time.”