A long-time Scott County car dealership burned down to the ground overnight.
Firefighters responded to a blaze at Marshall Chevrolet in Winchester at around 12:40 a-m. Winchester Fire Chief Paul Reuter says the shop area in the rear portion of the dealership building was totally engulfed in flames by the time crews arrived.
Reuter says the building, which also includes the show room, almost completely burned down by the time the fire was over. He says the only thing left standing was the oil change room.
Crews were able to salvage the vehicles that were in the show room, along with other nearby vehicles in the dealership parking lot. He says some nearby customer cars perished because crews didn’t have the keys to move them, plus two tow trucks were destroyed.
Reuter says the South Jacksonville, Jacksonville and North Scott Fire Departments were called in. Aerial ladder trucks were used to fight the fire.
Reuter, in addition to being the Winchester fire chief, co-owns Marshall Chevrolet with his brother. The two purchased the business from the Winchester-based Marshall family nearly 21 years. The dealership has been in Winchester for nearly 85 years.
“It’s just like losing a part of you. I happen to be the fire chief, I just had to keep it all together and do the right things, and hope for the best,” Reuter says.
“We had a house here south of us that we thought was going to burn, and buildings across the street. We stopped all that; it did melt the siding off of the house, but it could have been a lot worse. The wind was a big factor that we were fighting,” he adds.
Reuter says the cause of the fire is undetermined at this point. He says insurance representatives are on their way for assessment.
Winchester fire crews are still on scene this morning watching for hot spots.