Wilson's Automotive will live on - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Wilson's Automotive will live on

Wilson was inside welding when he smelled smoke Wilson was inside welding when he smelled smoke
AMERICUS, GA (WALB) -

An Americus auto parts shop say they're down but certainly not out after a weekend fire swept through their business. Flames destroyed half of Wilson's Automotive on MLK Drive, taking out thousands of auto parts. For the owner it's been a mix of emotions.

Johnny Wilson says his shop has withstood a flood and a tornado in its four decades. But it was a weekend fire that dealt a major blow. Despite losing much of his operation, it's a setback, but one that's been easier to deal with thanks to neighbors.

"It's been a good trip up until now. We had a little set back." That setback began around 4:00 Saturday afternoon when a fire started in the auto parts section of the building.

Wilson was inside welding when he smelled smoke. "It spread quick. Best I could tell the insulation caught on fire. It was wrapped in plastic and it just took off."

And it took decades worth of auto parts inventory. Family members took pictures of smoke billowing from the shop. Hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of tools, filters, parts books, computers, and engine components either melted, charred, or destroyed. 

"It would be hard to tell. 45 years of collecting parts." Luckily the fire didn't spread throughout the entire shop. Only the wrecker was damaged by the fire which let off such intense heat it bent a steel I-beam While the fire certainly put on damper on business, it showed this longtime businessman a thing or two about the community he's served.

"Yesterday when we had about 35 people helping us cleanup that dropped by just to see what was going on and went to work, I said, I didn't know I had that many friends. But it was something to see that many people working and helping me."

Now it's all about re- stocking the lost parts and restoring what was lost by fire. But also restored was a man's faith in his neighbors willing to help an old friend. The Flint River Chapter of the Red Cross has provided a trailer to serve as their office for the time being. Wilson says his auto shop is still open for business.

They are insured and hope to back up to full speed sooner than later. Firefighters think the fire started in an upstairs stock room due to a short in a fan.

Copyright 2013 WALB.  All rights reserved.

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