Fire rips through Phoenix auto repair shop

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By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver

PHOENIX -- A Phoenix auto repair shop appears to be a total loss after a first-alarm fire late Saturday morning, according to the Phoenix Fire Department.

Firefighters were called to AZRestoMod near Interstate 17 and 15th Avenue around 11:30 a.m.

"Firefighters arrived on scene in about three minutes," said Phoenix Fire Capt. Ruben Saavedra. "When they arrived here, they had a medium-sized commercial building that was currently operating. We had heavy fire and heavy smoke showing."

Saavedra said firefighters went inside the building to search for any occupants and to attempt an aggressive attack. They evacuated the building and went into defensive mode after seeing that cars were on fire and the flames had spread to the attic space.

Phoenix Fire Capt. Jeff Schripsema said the building had a bowstring truss roof.

"The problem with that is when fire gets into that truss space in that arch, it can spread very quickly and it can collapse very quickly," he said.

The roof collapsed on the south side of the building within minutes, according Schripsema.

Saavedra said about 40 to 50 firefighters were on scene.

The cause is under investigation, but service manager and lead mechanic Bill Gibbs told 3TV a 2005 Ford F-150 pickup truck caught fire while he was conducting routine computer testing. He said he was sitting in the driver's seat when the fire started.

"I've never experienced anything like it, so I can't even begin to guess what happened," he said.

Gibbs said three people were working at the time, but the owner has been out sick. Saavedra said no injuries were reported.

Gibbs said the fire is "disheartening" for the independent shop and could put him out of a job.

"The truth is, I'm more worried about what this means for the owner than anything else because he's got a lot of time and investment in this," he said.