Portsmouth auto shop destroyed by fire

Published: Dec. 20, 2016 at 5:37 PM EST
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PORTSMOUTH, Ohio (WSAZ) – An auto repair business was destroyed by fire early Tuesday morning. It torched not only the building, but five cars inside at the time.

Pappy's Body Shop was destroyed. It’s located at Ninth and Court streets, on the west end of town near U.S. 52.

It's the second major fire for the owners in the last two months. They tell us, they can't believe it's happened again.

It took Karen Parker most of the morning before she was ready to see what was left of her business for the first time.

"Oh God, I can’t believe it’s all gone,” she said.

Firefighters got the call around 3:40 a.m.

Jeff Shales ran out without shoes at first, hoping to save his dog which he had let inside because of the cold temperatures.

For now, even words are a struggle.

"The whole building was just, just, the whole back of the building was an inferno," he said.

It was an inferno on the inside and an icebox on the outside. The air temperature was around 14 degrees, making it difficult for firefighters even to walk around the scene, to say nothing of actually fighting the fire.

"There was a tremendous fuel load in the building so that definitely made it more difficult,” said Portsmouth Fire Chief Bill Raison. “I know at one point we were putting quite a bit of water on it, and it wasn't having a lot of effect."

Five cars parked inside for repairs were also destroyed, along with a handful of others outside.

"Business was picking up and we were doing so good, it just feels like the rug has been pulled out from us," Parker said.

Two months ago, a fire at their home forced Shales and Parker to move to a home nearby, just a few steps from their business. Now, they have a home to come back to, but their home away from home is all gone.

"I just have to hold onto the faith that this happens for a reason," Parker said.

"This is everything, 14 years. This is it. That's what's left," Shales added.

The building is a total loss.

Firefighters have not been able to determine a cause yet, but Shales said he turned two heaters on overnight, including one to keep his pipes from freezing.