Repair shop owner suffers smoke inhalation

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 15, 2013

SALISBURY — A fire Friday burned most of a garage off Old Mocksville Road that was used as a repair shop. There were no serious injuries.
When firefighters first arrived at 425 Long Bow Road around 12:30 p.m. Friday, flames and thick black smoke were rising from the roof, and a nearby tree had caught fire.
They extinguished the fire before it spread.
To protect themselves against fumes from the burning chemicals in the garage, firefighters wore gas masks until the flames subsided.
Ellis Fire Chief Jeff Whitley said about 75 percent of the garage was involved in the fire, but it’s possible the metal structure can be salvaged.
The man currently renting the property, Jose Santo Berrios, was treated for smoke inhalation but was otherwise uninjured. The owner, Oscar Bonia, was not present at the time of the fire.
Because Berrios does not speak English, firefighters had a hard time determining what happened.
Aaron Youngblood, an investigator with the Rowan County Fire Marshal’s Office, said the fire started in a vehicle that was parked in a carport attached to the garage.
“Exactly what started the fire in the vehicle, we’re not sure,” he said. “But the vehicle definitely started and set the building on fire.”
Berrios had moved the car into the carport earlier in the day, preparing to work on it. He went into his house on the same property, and when he came back outside, he saw that the garage was on fire and called 911.
There were no other cars inside the structure. Several vehicles were parked out front, but none were damaged.
A neighbor, Diane Jones, also called 911 when she said she heard a loud “boom.”
“I looked out the window and could see smoke and some of the flames,” Jones said. “I would like to commend all the fire departments. … The response today was amazing.”
Whitley said this is the second time Ellis Fire Department has been called out to a fire at that property.
Also responding Friday were Franklin, Spencer, Woodleaf and Salisbury fire departments.