Athens auto shop catches fire

: Carry Whalen Thompson
<a href="http://wate.com/report-it">: Carry Whalen Thompson</a>

ATHENS (WATE) – Firefighters and first responders showed up in force after a Downtown Athens business went up in flames.

Viewers told WATE 6 On Your Side the fire started at Friendly City Auto Car and Towing, located at 703 W Madison Avenue in Athens around 6 a.m.

Stacy Crisp had a car in the shop.

“Well, we were supposed to pick it up today, and it looks like we’re going to have to find another one because it’s finished as of today,” he said.

A number of cars inside Friendly City Auto Care were destroyed in that fire.

“We’ve had lifts collapse, cars on lifts that collapsed, so everything inside is a total loss,” said Athens Fire Chief Jim Dyer.

Firefighters worked for hours to put out hot spots.

“I had crews on the ladder truck trying to pull ceilings and roofing off the top. So it was a man-power intensive fire,” added Chief Dyer.

Gasoline and oil made it an even more challenging fire in that firefighters used both foam and water to extinguish flames.

“We’ve had HAZMAT that we’ve worked while we’re here. We’ve had to boom and dyke the waterways because we’ve got so much oil and product rolling down the road,” said Chief Dyer.

Ashes scattered West Madison Avenue, which was blocked off. Next door to the auto shop, Convalescent Supplies is now dealing with smoke damage.

“We’re probably going to be shut down for probably four or five days just to see what kind of damage we have. We can operate out of one of our other stores to take care of our patients and customers,” said owner Earl Cameron.

“I’ve known these folks for years. I’m glad nobody was here and hurt,” said Crisp. “It’s sad. It’s a sad thing. Had a lot of time and work invested in that jeep. Hate to see it like that.”

The owner of Friendly City Auto Care says they say the built the business in March 1988 and had plans to expand. Now they’ll be taking things one day at a time and eventually relocate.

Chief Dyer says a team of investigators, along with the State Fire Marshal, will be working to find out what caused the fire. He says it could take days to complete.

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