Fire consumes three Sanford auto businesses

Jul. 21, 2014 @ 06:05 PM

A trio of auto businesses burned down early Monday in the Jonesboro area.

Sanford Auto Auction, Big Al's Automotive and Kelly's Clean Cars all received heavy damage in a fire reported around 4:15 a.m. The operations share the same location on Cameron Drive between Lee Avenue and Industrial Drive.

Sanford Fire Department Capt. Tim Smith said Sanford Auto Auction lost six vehicles and a boat in addition to the building. But about five hours after the fire, the business's owner, Robert House, said he wasn't concerned about the financial losses as much as the emotional ones — like the moped that belonged to his late father and was on display in a back room of the store.

"I just hope that wasn't damaged," House said. "... That's the only thing I care about right now."

Smith and other firemen on the scene, representing the Sanford Fire Department and Lemon Springs Volunteer Fire Department, said around 9:30 a.m. that the building still was too hot to enter despite a steady rain all morning, so the investigation into the cause of the fire was still in its early stages.

By Monday evening, Sanford Fire Chief Wayne Barber said the building remained too unsafe for much in-depth investigation by either his people or state investigators. He also said it's impossible to tell what might have caused the fire, with plenty of electrical work inside and an intense lightning storm around the time the fire was reported.

"We've done all we can do," Barber said. "Right now, it's going to be left 'undetermined' at this time. There's just so many possible ignition points in there."