Plymouth garage inferno leaves boss 'devastated'
THE OWNER of a busy city garage has said his "whole life has gone up in flames" after a blaze ripped through his business destroying everything – including a number of high-value performance cars.
Cary Mortimore told The Herald he has been left "gutted" and "devastated" following a fire at North Hill Repair Centre, in Mutley, at around 11.30pm on Wednesday.
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"I'm devastated. I've had that garage 22 years. The whole garage is gone including tools costing about £80,000, vehicles to a similar value and all the keys to our other vehicles which were parked outside.
"My whole life has gone up in flames. I feel absolutely gutted - I don't know what I'm going to do," he said.
Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue said they received a high number of calls about the fire and eight fire crews from Greenbank, Crownhill, Ivybridge, Plympton, Camels Head, Plymstock and Yelverton all attended the incident.
Wendy, Cary's partner, said they arrived at the garage shortly after midnight following a call from someone who lives near to the garage. She said: "When we got the call we were just about to go to sleep. We thought it would just be the bin on fire or something, not anything that serious.
"But when we got near to the garage all the roads were closed nearby and there were about 14 fire engines parked up the lane. We could see the flames blazing above all the houses. We just couldn't believe how fast it had gone up."
It is believed around 50 firefighters tackled the blaze, which began at around 11.25pm on Wednesday. A section of Mutley Plain remained closed yesterday morning.
"At one point all the fire engines started reversing down the lane and then the next thing we knew the Mercedes CLK that was in the garage roared up in the air, well above the roof, in a fireball before dropping back down," said Wendy.
"It was so loud – there were continuous bangs and it was like fireworks were shooting up in the sky," she said.
Wendy said: "The garage is our livelihood. We can't earn a penny without it. Cary is usually in it from about 7am to 11pm seven days a week - it's like his home really.
"He works so hard. He was only home early on Wednesday night because he had important paper work to do, but thank God he did. It was the worst night of our lives."
As well as thousands of pounds of tools and equipment being lost, Cary also had a number of high value cars in the garage at the time of the fire including a Porsche Boxster, three Mercedes, a Jaguar and a mini classic.
Cary said: "We have had so much support since the fire happened. We've had garages from up the line ringing offering recovery trucks, garage space, and other people offering us things like storage space for the cars that weren't damaged."
The blaze, under police investigation but believed to have started due to an electrical fault, could be seen from several miles away.
Cary and Wendy are now waiting to hear from the loss adjustors.
"I've worked hard to get to where I am now and now it's all gone. I just feel numb," Cary added.
EYE-witnesses of the garage fire described seeing flames billowing into the night sky and hearing a series of explosions, writes Lisa Boyle.
Ricky Bricomb, who lives in Hill Park, stayed up most of the night to watch the drama unfold. He said: “There were lots of explosions. A Mercedes was sitting just behind the door. When the fuel tank on it exploded I was shocked.
“You could feel the heat from inside the kitchen, the window was hot to touch.”
Students in flats across the road hurried outside to watch the flames stretch into the sky.
Craig Dias, 19, was woken by his flatmates when they noticed the fire.
He said: “The flames were higher than the buildings next to the garage. I heard about three or four big explosions over the night. The fire crews were battling it all night.”
Bernard Sharp’s back yard in North Hill Crescent looks on to the lane. His Renault was in the care of the garage for repairs. Bernard said: “It has a key card, but I don’t think I’ll be seeing that again.”
He watched the blaze take hold. “I popped my ladder against the wall so that I could film it. There were loads of explosions, you could hear car tyres popping and there was obviously a lot of things in there to keep the fire going.
“It was very hot, I was only about 50 yards away.”