Classic cars worth millions destroyed in two fires

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burning car

Two recent fires recently destroyed more than 20 classic cars. Image: Francois Schnell/Flickr/CC BY

Five classic cars were turned to twisted steel in a Kansas garage fire in late July. Exactly a week later, 17 more classics were incinerated in an unrelated conflagration in Massachusetts. It’s enough to make a gear head weep.

Kansas classic cars conflagration

Steven Terry of Haysville, Kansas experienced his own worst nightmare just after midnight on July 19. He and his fiancee heard a loud “pop” sound, but, after looking around the house, he could find no cause for it. However, about five minutes later they heard a series of more pops. This time the source became evident when they looked out the window and saw flames illuminating the closed shades in the unattached garage.

That garage housed Terry’s pride and joy: five classic automobiles he had accumulated and restored at great expense over the years. After he made sure his fiancee, their infant son and their dogs were safely out of the house, he took a look in the garage. The heat had caused the door to open. He watched helplessly as flames, licking the ceiling, engulfed his 1979 Trans Am, 2001 V28 Trans Am, 2000 W6 Trans Am, 1991 GTA Trans Am and his 1982 Z28 Camaro.

Terry later told reporters,

“In hell. That’s where I was… It was like a bad nightmare.”

Investigators later told Terry that the  fire was likely caused by a problem in the garage’s wiring.

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Massachusetts mill fire

Just one week later, a five-alarm swept through the Old Woolen Mill warehouse in Charlton, Massachusetts, taking six business housed in the warehouse with it. Among those concerns was the classic car restoration firm, Werke Classic Coach.

The company’s owner, Gary Cove, told reporters that the 17 vehicles destroyed with his business were worth over $2 million.

The fire destroyed, among other vehicles, a Mercedes worth $750,000, two Jaguar E types, a 1933 Rolls Royce and several Porsches.

As sad as that is, Cove did manage to save a few of the vehicles before the fire consumed them. An Alfa Romeo Giulia SS, a 1964 Shelby Cobra and a 1957 Mercedes 300SL all escaped a fiery fate. The Mercedes, valued at around $800,000, was the most valuable of the bunch.

While investigators are still working to determine the cause of the fire, Cove is convinced it can from an illegal chop shop, also located inside the warehouse.

Cove told reporters:

“The issue was where they were cutting, it was a container that was all wood. I’ve told the town before; I’ve told the fire department before.”

However, fire officials say that, at this time, there is no indication of suspicious activity.

No fire hydrants

Six firefighters were treated for heat exhaustion after battling the blaze, but nobody was badly hurt. Incredible as it seems, the town of Charleston, Massachusetts has no working fire hydrants, so the decision was made to let the fire burn itself out. Otherwise, perhaps more classic cars could have been spared.

Cove echoed Steven Terry’s remarks from a week earlier. He told reporters:

“This is my worst nightmare.”


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