A fast-moving fire Thursday destroyed an automotive shop and heavily damaged an adjacent home on a busy Bremerton intersection before fire crews could push down the ferocious flames.
The blaze, which began about 12:15 p.m., gutted Motor City Automotive at 11th Street and Callow Avenue and quickly spread to a neighboring home to the north. Crews from Bremerton, Central Kitsap and Navy Region Northwest doused the flames as onlookers throughout the commercial corridor looked on in disbelief.
No injuries were reported. Employees of the business were able to evacuate safely and firefighters helped to remove animals from the neighboring home, though a Husky dog named Storm is missing after running away from the home.
Adrianna Chavez, who works nearby, rushed outside after hearing a series of explosions.
"I hear a pop ... and then another bigger pop," she said. "I came out, and I see the flames coming from the windows of the mechanic's shop, onto the cars ... and at that point, the whole thing went up in flames."
The fire started after gasoline from a fuel tank ignited, according to Bremerton Fire Department Battalion Chief John Payne. Workers were attempting to remove a fuel tank from a car when one of the jacks supporting the vehicle collapsed. A light stanchion fell over, igniting the fuel, which spread quickly over the floor.
Workers attempted to put out the fire with a piece of carpet, which only fed the flames, Payne said. Both workers and a customer fled the scene when the carpet failed to put out the fire.
Danny Mills, owner of Motor City Automotive, said that once the flames became too powerful, they had no choice but to evacuate.
"It was a freak accident," he said.
A large plume of smoke from the fire could be seen from as far away as Port Orchard. It took about one hour to get the fire under control and crews remained on scene and planned to do so well into the night to keep an eye out for flare-ups.
Payne said it's likely the largest fire Bremerton crews have battled since the Arnold's Home Furnishings fire on Kitsap Way in 2009.
Bremerton Fire Chief David Schmitt, who replaced Al Duke as leader of the fire department this year, praised the crews as they worked to douse the flames.
"They've done a great job," he said. "And on the hottest day of the year as well."
More information will be posted this afternoon.
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