By Monica Pryts/Staff Writer
Clarence "Sonny" Myers is still picking up the pieces of Tuesday night's fire that destroyed his Liberty Township auto repair shop and several vehicles, and took the lives of his five cats.
"That's what bothers me the most," Myers said Thursday of losing the mother cat and her kittens that kept him company at his garage, Myers Auto Repair, which sat next to his mobile home for 33 years.
He and his wife Sandra were just pulling into their driveway at 28 Browntown Road around 7:45 p.m., right after their son Justin and his wife Krista called 911 to report flames coming from the wood frame garage; the younger couple also lives in a mobile home next to the business.
"They had to drag me away," Myers said of his instinct to try and save the cats before firefighters arrived.
But the younger pair was quick to get him away from the 30-by-60-foot structure, which was a total loss, along with its contents that included equipment Myers used to perform vehicle and emissions inspections.
Five propane tanks exploded at one point and a fire marshal's initial inspection points to a wood-burning stove that may have started the blaze, said Dave Taggart, chief of Slippery Rock Volunteer Fire Department, which covers the township.
The official cause of the fire remains undetermined but Taggart said he expects it will be ruled accidental.
The Myers family is thankful no one was hurt and they credit firefighters with saving their homes during what continues to be a stressful situation to work out, Mrs. Myers said.
Myers' own pickup truck and a customer's car were inside the garage, and they're now just charred shells of metal, along with a 1971 Volkswagen Type 3 Myers had been restoring; it sat outside next to the garage.
Some siding on both mobile homes melted, and the back wall of the elder Myers' home was damaged along with some broken windows, Mrs. Myers said. His tow truck and his dog Junior's house behind the garage were also ruined.
The dog sat next to his house as Myers paced the property, talking about how he'd like to rebuild eventually. He has insurance on the building and Mrs. Myers said damage is estimated at about $100,000.
"That business was our livelihood," she said, adding she wants to recognize family, friends and customers who have been calling to share their sympathies, offer support and drop off food.
If and when they rebuild, it will be a smaller garage, and they're keeping their loyal customers in mind.
"He would do anything and everything to help people. He was the most fair and honest," Mrs. Myers said.
The couple has been married almost 52 years and they have 10 children. Justin Myers and their oldest child, Clarence Myers III, who was killed in a car crash 18 years ago, helped start the business, and they're hanging onto those memories since nothing from the shop could be salvaged, Mrs. Myers said.
The elder Myers also keeps thinking about the cats. He found the body of one kitten on Wednesday and buried it behind the garage.
"I think it was the one that came up to kiss my face while I did paperwork," he said.
Firefighters from Pine Township, Grove City, Jackson Center, East End, Sandy Lake, Stoneboro, Fredonia and Harrisville assisted.
Published April. 6, 2013, in Allied News. Pick up a copy at 201 A Erie St., Grove City.