Auto repair shop destroyed by fire in Grand Rapids

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- A fire destroyed Guevara Auto Repair Shop just before 11:30 a.m. Monday. The building is located in the 1600 block of Blaine Avenue which is on Grand Rapids southeast side.

Co-owner Erique Guevara recalled that an employee was working on a car's gas tank, and it started leaking. He said the fuel came in contact with a sparking electrical wire, which started the fire.

"Everybody started running out," Guevara said.

Mechanics tried putting the fire out with an extinguisher, but the extinguisher dried up, said Grand Rapids Deputy Fire Chief Kevin Sehlmeyer. The fire spread too quickly, even for his crews, who got to the scene in just four minutes.

Even with that quick response, Sehlmeyer said 60 percent of the building was gone, so crews worked on keeping the fire from spreading to nearby property, including a lumber yard across the street

Crews contained the flames and eventually worked to spray out hot spots. Meanwhile, customers' vehicles burned inside the building.

FOX 17 learned this isn't the first problem the shop has had in recent years. According to information from the secretary of state, the auto shop faces several alleged violations, the most recent from September 22, 2015.

In one of the violations, state inspectors accused the shop of failing to "employ properly certified mechanics." The owners haven't had a hearing on any of the violations yet.

When it comes to the fire, Guevara is choosing to look on the bright side, considering things could have been much worse.

"The main thing, we have to start over. We're not losing our life," he said.

"Everything that we lose is all material," he said. "The lives are more important right now."

Guevara said customers have been notified. He said his shop wasn't insured.

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