'I have nothing left' - businesses facing ruin after fire

March 29 2019
'I have nothing left' - businesses facing ruin after fire

TWO car repair businesses have been destroyed in a blaze which swept through a warehouse.

The owners say that they and their families have lost everything in the fire, which broke out at the P&P Autos workshop, above, on March 10 and soon spread to neighbouring VJ Autos, which was in the unit next door on Trench Lane, Winterbourne.

P&P Autos is owned by Petras Pucinskas, who said: “I had my kids and wife inside – we had to run for our lives.

Something had started sparking and in the garage we have oil and fuel, so very quickly everything happened.

I was in the office. We smashed the windows and went out through the windows.”

Petras’s children are 6 and 8 years old. A colleague was later sent to hospital to be treated for burns to his hands.

Firefighters from seven different stations, including Patchway and Yate, were called in to what became a major operation and were told there might be cylinders of acetylene, a highly flammable gas used in welding, inside.

Vitor Jorge, who owned VJ Autos, said there was a two-hour delay in getting water on to the flames, which meant his garage was destroyed.

He said: “Someone phoned me from across the road from another garage, I reckon around 1.30pm.

I flew and got straight to the workshop and the fire brigade was there, but my workshop was not on fire.

They tried to get water from a lake nearby, but they said there was no pressure. I screamed but no one let me do anything, they didn’t let me clear my things. When the water arrived, my workshop was gone.”

Avon Fire and Rescue Service group manager Stuart Matthews acknowledged it had taken time to get enough water to fight the fire.

He said: “On arrival, crews found a well-developed fire that potentially involved acetylene cylinders and live electrics within the premises.

This was a dynamic incident that was quickly scaled up, so that crews could deal with the fire in a professional and safe manner, including trying to limit the large amount of black smoke and mixed gases that had quickly engulfed the three individual adjoining workshops and surrounding area.

Due to the location of the incident, there was also a difficulty to deliver a substantial amount of water to the scene. Crews worked tirelessly to secure a suitable source of water and effectively deal with the fire.

Upon arrival at the incident, one male casualty already had burns to his hands and was conveyed to hospital. Further safety of the public and crews was paramount and, as with every incident, crews are constantly risk-assessing the situation to ensure that everybody is safe and that the incident is dealt with as swiftly as possible.”

Burnt-out car at VJ Autos

 

A burnt-out car at VJ Autos

Both mechanics have now launched crowd funding pages after the businesses they had built from scratch were wiped out.

Vitor said: “I have nothing left. I had a customer’s car that’s gone. I got insurance and trade insurance and thought I had contents insurance but I didn’t, so everything is lost.

I had every single tool a garage needs to work. I’m trying to come up with a solution as my wife is pregnant with our second child and she is really stressed.”

Vitor and his wife Sandra already have a 6 year old daughter.

Petras also had no contents insurance.

He said: “Before I start my business life was very hard. After five years to get the business running, things started to get better but my mistake, on the insurance.

I’m going to sell my car to have some money to pay the mortgage and bills. I’ve still got a recovery vehicle.”

But although Petras believes he has lost around £25,000 because of the blaze, he says he refuses to be beaten, adding: “We will rebuild, we are not going to give up.”

Both men have set up personal appeals for financial help.

Vitor’s GofundMe page can be found here: bit.ly/2JpYuap.

Petras’s page can be found here: bit.ly/2HI2cd0.