Fire destroys body shop, cabinet shop

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By Chris Sardelli

Eric Montgomery spent most of Tuesday cleaning up the remnants of a building he owned on Great Falls Highway.
Sifting through the rubble, Montgomery stopped to pick out shards of window glass and pieces of steel from the frame. He said the auto body shop building at 1981 Great Falls Highway was a complete loss after a fire burned it down on Monday. He had rented it to two tenants.
“Shoot, it’s flat on the ground,” Montgomery said. “We’re just out here today (Tuesday) cleaning it all up.”
About 30 hours earlier, Montgomery was sleeping when he received a call from the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office about the fire.
He and his tenants rushed to the scene to find the building engulfed in flames.
Deputies responded to the City Body Shop at about 2:30 a.m. Monday, after receiving a call from an employee at the nearby Forks convenience store, according to an incident report.
The employee was working the early morning shift when a customer came in and said a building was on fire on Great Falls Highway. The fire had already consumed the building by the time deputies arrived.
The Gooches, Bell Town, Elgin and Riverside volunteer fire departments responded to the scene.
Sheriff Barry Faile said no one was injured in the fire. The building was valued at $150,000, according to the report.
Montgomery rented the front of the building to a cabinet business and the back of the building was rented to A-1 Body Shop. About $4,000 of painting supplies were lost in the body shop, while the owner of the cabinet shop said he lost between $30,000 and $40,000 dollars worth of tools and cabinets, according to the report.
Fire officials at the scene said it appeared the fire started in the back of the building around a wood stove, but Sheriff Barry Faile said deputies are still investigating.
“Both businesses regularly use accelerants on a daily basis, so at this time we’re not sure what happened,” Faile said.
Despite the fire, Montgomery said he plans to replace the building.
“I’m going to rebuild,” he said. “I hate that it happened right during the holidays, but that building can be replaced.”

Contact reporter Chris Sardelli  at csardelli@thelancasternews.com or at (803) 416-8416