Hundreds of rare and exotic cars estimated to be worth an estimated $60 million have been claimed by a warehouse fire Wednesday afternoon just minutes outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
The seven-alarm fire took place at a facility used by multiple businesses for vehicle repair and storage called STORExpress after a motorcycle undergoing repair on the first floor of the building caught fire. Combustible material and accidental accelerants found in the building (like the gasoline in the stored cars) caused the blaze to spread rapidly, filling the entire town of Etna with smoke thick enough to make some streets impossible to traverse, even by car.
One of the business owners in the facility, Ross Godber of Victory Garage, recalls hearing several loud bangs while he was underneath of a 1997 Bentley Continental. Godber scuttled from under the car and noticed that the building had become hazy with smoke, with thick black clouds from burning tires headed his way.
Godber managed to save a 2011 Ferrari California from the fire by driving it out of the building. He attempted to re-enter the remaining three vehicles he was working on, the $325,000 Bentley, a 1947 Dodge sedan, and a 1995 Ford F-250 monster truck, but the flames from the fire proved to be too strong. According to Godber, the three vehicles he lost were part of a $60 million tragedy.
But he wasn't alone. Alongside the other Bentleys, Ferraris, Porsches, and classics which were lost in the inferno sat a 1920s-era Bugatti race car which was estimated to be worth more than $2 million. The Undercliff Volunteer Fire Department posted and retracted several photos of building's interior which showed some of the ruined cars, including an Alfa Romeo SZ, Mercedes-Benz S-Class, and a C4 Corvette.
“Everything above on the second floor concrete, including antique cars, very nice cars stored upstairs, has all fallen down into the first floor, which has created a very significant problem for us to try and deal with,” said Greg Porter, Chief of Etna's fire department, to local news.
It took firefighters from several neighboring municipalities more than three hours to extinguish the blaze, three of which were injured in the process. Porter goes on to mention that although the building did have a sprinkler system installed, however, it did not operate as intended when needed.
Godber is one of the many business owners who operate in the warehouse who was part of the total loss. He has called the warehouse home to his garage for nearly five years, something which he can no longer do because of the fire. Godber says that he wants to continue working on his passion for working on niche vehicles, but doesn't have the funds to start over.
This is the second fire that's claimed priceless vehicles this week, with the other one happening Thursday on the set of an HBO mini-series. The fire claimed dozens of vintage Chevrolet Corvettes and Camaros.