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ELM CITY — A family-owned auto repair business was destroyed in a massive fire Friday afternoon.
Pro Auto Care, located about 600 feet east of U.S. 301 at 6215 E. Langley Road, was owned by Bryan and Debbie Haggans of Pinetops.
“We are just in a daze right now, to be honest with you,” said Debbie Haggans on Tuesday.
Haggans, her husband and their son, David Haggans, were at the shop Friday working on the son’s car when they discovered that the structure was on fire.
“We looked up, and there was fire coming out in between the walls,” Haggans said. “By the time we got over there with the fire extinguisher and the water hose, it just kept igniting. We just couldn’t get it under control.”
The Hagganses called 911 as fire spread quickly from the back of the shop to the front.
‘IT WAS A MASSIVE FIRE’
Chief Lin Jones of the Toisnot Rural Fire Department said the fire call came in at 3:18 p.m.
“Our first personnel arrived on scene to a fully involved structure fire, out the roof,” Jones said.
A video captured by a passerby showed flames shooting 30 feet in the air.
On the first tone, the Sharpsburg and Bakertown fire departments were dispatched. The Toisnot. Silver Lake and East Nash fire departments responded as well.
“It was basically a defensive attack because it was fully involved, and we had to protect the adjoining church that was behind the Pro Auto Care,” Jones said.
First Missionary Baptist Church of Elm City, which is just a few feet away from the structure that burned, had vinyl siding that was melted from the heat.
“It was a massive fire,” Jones said. “In an auto repair shop, you are going to have motor oil, tires on vehicles, grease and stuff like that. There were two or three vehicles inside the structure that were burned and some damage to vehicles that were close to the building that got damaged as well.”
Jones said it took 30 minutes to get the fire under control.
“It was a tough one. I was coming from Rocky Mount, and I was on 301 coming 2 or 3 miles outside of Sharpsburg traveling south, and I could see the smoke from there,” Jones said. “I had folks say that they had seen it from Bailey and different places around.”
Jones said between 30 to 40 firefighters helped with the fire.
“The people that ran the facility did not get hurt, nor any of the firefighters,” Jones said.
Jones said the building, a 70-year-old wooden structure with metal siding, is destroyed.
“The building is basically on the ground. It was burned up. There is no way they can go back in that building. It was burned completely up. There was lot of equipment that was lost inside the shop as far as tools and diagnostic tools and stuff like that,” Jones said.
Debbie Haggans said the business didn’t have insurance.
“It’s been tough because Bryan just had back surgery Dec. 2, so he wasn’t even working. He couldn’t work for three months, so on top of that, this,” Haggans said. “It’s just been a whirlwind. It is something I never expected we would have to go through.”
The family spent most of Sunday and Monday at the scene.
“We were just trying to go through and clean up and see if there was anything to salvage, and, of course, there is very little that could be salvaged,” Haggans said.
Jones said the fire’s cause hasn’t been determined.
“I am just glad nobody got hurt,” Jones said. “With a fire that big as big as it was, it being in the afternoon like that on a Friday afternoon, it was good to see nobody got hurt. Everybody was safe. Everybody worked together, all the fire departments that were there.”
According to Jones, the property is owned by Doris S. Webb, the widow of Lloyd Webb, who for many years operated Webb’s Garage in the building.
The Hagganses have been renting the building for the last 11 years.
Jones said Wilson County EMS, the Wilson County Sheriff’s Office and Wilson County Emergency Management also responded to the fire.
Sherry Bass, owner of Oh My Lard restaurant in Elm City, said the restaurant is collecting donations for the Haggans family.
“We’ve got a donation jar, and we are donating 50% of dessert sales for a month through Saturday, Feb. 22,” Bass said. “They are regular customers and well known around Elm City as well. I just hate it for them to have lost their business.”