Joe Klements watched smoke rise and disperse and water cascade down and pondered the question marks sprinting across his mind.
“Seventy years old and I’ll have to rebuild,” he lamented. “I have to evaluate and go from there.”
Klements is the owner of Klements Auto, a repair and state inspection shop in Cecil Township that was severely damaged by a blaze Sunday afternoon. The fire marshal was on the scene, but as of early evening, a cause was not determined.
There were no injuries.
The blaze began around 2:30 p.m. at the shop on Morganza Road, near the intersection with Georgetown Road. It was under control in about an hour, as firefighters contained it to the garage area. The offices on the left side of the building were undamaged.
“I didn’t think we’d save that the way it was blazing when we got here,” Cecil fire Chief William Cass said. “Smoke and flames were to the top of the trees (behind and to the side of the building).”
The fire, Klements said, pointing to his name in front of the building, extended “from the K to the right.”
The top level of the two-story garage was destroyed and the first floor heavily damaged. Tires and mechanical items lying outside and to the right of the garage were destroyed. Klements, however, said those items were being “tossed out.”
Firefighters also hosed down nearby trees, some of which were aflame.
Six fire departments responded: two from Cecil plus Fairview (South Fayette), McDonald, Peters Township and Muse.
Joe Klements has owned the business, at that site, for 40 years. This was the first blaze there, other than some “cars being set on fire by people years ago.”
He said the building existed “since George Washington came here. The offices were once a livery stable.”
Around 4, watching the fire units undertake cleanup operations to a business he owned since 1974, Klements was downtrodden but trying to cope.
“Now I’ll see who my friends are,” he said. “Hey, life goes on.”