In recent fires, some lost all

Benefits planned for victims of blazes at local businesses
Jul. 28, 2014 @ 06:03 PM

After recent fires destroyed five businesses, leaving dozens of people without their livelihoods, at least two fundraisers have been set up for locals to come to the aid of those who are struggling.

"We don't even have a rag left," said Terrie Gibson, whose husband, Kelly, started Kelly's Clean Cars. "Everything we have was invested, and it was all burned up there."

The Gibsons' detailing shop burned to the ground July 21 along with fellow Cameron Drive businesses Big Al's Automotive and Sanford Auto Auction. This Saturday, the Tiki Bar in Jonesboro will host a plate sale and raffle to raise money for the Gibsons.

The couple hadn't insured anything they had in the shop and didn't own the building, which was insured, so for them the fire was a total loss in the truest sense.

"Everything's gone," Terrie Gibson said. "It's like we don't exist. ... We don't have but 20-something dollars left in the bank. All this crying and stuff I've been doing hasn't really helped, but we just lost everything."

However, the Gibsons have their weekend benefit and said they're also working with a local First Bank branch to set up an official donation fund. The fundraiser this Saturday will last from 12-6 p.m. at 105 E. Main St. with $6 plates of barbecue chicken and sides, a wreath auction and a 50-50 raffle.

Kelly Gibson said he lost probably $7,000 of equipment in the fire and hopes to recoup even a small percentage of that through donations. And the meantime, he's looking for any opportunity that will help pay the bills.

"I can't stay down forever," he said. "If I've got to do a job I don't love to do, there's no shame in that."

Other people out of work suddenly are the dozens of cooks, servers and other employees of the Fairview Dairy Bar and The Flame Steakhouse, which were temporarily shut down by a fire the week before the fire that struck the auto businesses.

The restaurants, which are both owned by Steve Brewer, were insured and will likely be open again in the coming months — The Flame by sometime in September and the Dairy Bar by the new year. Brewer's wife, Kathy, said they have not planned any fundraisers, but a group of local musicians are planning a concert and auction Aug. 17 to raise money for employees.

"We're looking for donations from area businesses to raffle off," said Robert Watson, one of the musicians involved, who started things off by donating a guitar himself. "... The plan is to raise as much as we can for the employees. Not the owners, or the building, but the employees."

The event also will feature free performances — thanks to donated labor and equipment from Buchanan's Music — by local acts FOG Blues Band, Brick City South, Tuesday Night Music Club, Faith Bardill and The Band, and Rob Matthews. It will be held in Depot Park and is tentatively scheduled for 1-6 p.m. More details will be announced on a yet-to-be-made Facebook page. People and businesses wanting to donate items can contact Tony Chilton at tchilton@wave-net.net.

At least one local restaurant found a different way to help, offering a steady paycheck.

"We had one girl come in, and we hired her," said Jeff Kopp, at Jeff and Lisa's Brickhouse Grill on Colon Road. "But that's all we've seen. We might be able to hire someone else, but it would probably be on a part-time basis."

Not everyone hurt by the fires has a fundraiser or another business willing to take them in, however. A man who visited the burned-out auto building Monday, Richard Summers, said he had worked there for several years and accumulated $10,000 or more in tools and equipment, all of which was uninsured. He said he's still grasping for answers after losing everything in the fire.

"All my life was in those tool boxes," Summers said. "That's how I made my living."

Robert House, who owned of Sanford Auto Auction and the building that housed his business and the others, said he's still on his feet because he has another business, N.C. Auto and Equipment Sales. But House said he feels for the others and hopes they're able to bounce back.

"I'm OK," he said Monday. "But them, I'm worried about. They're good, hardworking people."