A well-known local business was engulfed in smoke and flames Wednesday, destroying the roof and interior as McMinnville firefighters battled the blaze for eight hours.
Perry’s Garage, located at 510 Sparta Street, was ravaged by fire. Thick, black smoke billowed high into the sky while tires and auto fluids burned. Police officers and firemen blocked off a segment of Sparta Street to motorists.
According to McMinnville Fire Chief Kendall Mayfield, the call came at 5:30 p.m. with heavy smoke pouring from the building. Once firefighters were able to make entry at the bottom of the garage, the fire was discovered to be coming from the chimney flue next to an electricity box.
“It is unknown at this time if something shorted in the electricity box or if the fire came from the flue,” says Mayfield. “The fire was upstairs and in the roof. There are three roofs on the building, making the flames harder to combat.”
The muffler shop is located beside Genesis Apartments near the underpass. Approximately 20 firemen worked from 5:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. to extinguish the fire and prevent the flames from reaching surrounding buildings. No people were in Perry’s Garrage at the time of the fire.
Mayfield expects the upper portion of the building will most likely need to be removed. The upstairs caved in but didn’t cause much damage to the actual garage. Mayfield believes the garage area of the structure could more than likely be restored.
Ronnie Perry has owned the muffler shop for 35 to 40 years and has been a mechanic for over 50 years. Perry states he has served thousands of customers from McMinnville, Smithville, Woodbury and other surrounding areas. He says his customers have become like friends to him.
Perry has frequently used his garage to hand out food for families and individuals in need. When asked why he did this, he jokingly replied “to be a good boy.”
“Mr. Perry is devastated,” says Mayfield. “This business is his livelihood so he will be out of commission for a good while until everything is cleaned up and able to be reopened.”
An hour after Perry left the garage Wednesday afternoon, he received the devastating phone call regarding the fire. Perry immediately drove to his shop to discover smoke coming from the building and flames shooting from the roof.
“It definitely didn’t feel good when I saw the fire,” says Perry. “I was pretty torn up over it, especially since I didn’t have any insurance on the building.”
Perry surveyed the damage to his shop Thursday morning with family members and friends who came to help him clean up and lend support. He says he is thinking about repairing the damage and reopening the garage and is hopeful for the future.
“All I can do is start cleaning up,” says Perry while sorting through the debris from the fire. “I am going to get my tools out and pick up whatever I can still use.”