HomeCar CultureCommentaryFires destroy collector vehicles in three locations

Fires destroy collector vehicles in three locations


In the past couple of days, fires have devastated collector cars in storage in two states and in Scotland. 

In Etna, Pennsylvania, just north of Pittsburgh, a fire in a two-story self-storage building reportedly destroyed more than 200 vehicles, many of them collector cars, including a 1920s-era Bugatti reportedly worth $2 million.

According to the Allegheny County Department of Emergency Services, the fire started on the building’s first flood when a man was working on a motorcycle that caught fire.

Fires, Fires destroy collector vehicles in three locations, ClassicCars.com Journal
The remains of 1980s-vintage vehicles parked in front of an historic auto dealership being used as a set for the filming of an HBO series in Ulster County, New York | Amberly Jane Campbell / Shawangunk Journal photo courtesy TheDrive.com

Local media reported that three firefighters were injured with burns or breathing issues while fighting the flames. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette newspaper reported that Etna fire chief Greg Porter said fuel in the building, presumably in vehicle fuel tanks, caused explosions and pushed out the front wall of the structure.

There were reports that the building’s alarm and sprinkler systems failed to operate during the fire.

“Ross Godber, owner of Ross Godber’s Victory Garage, said he was working on a Bentley in his space on the first floor of the warehouse when he heard several loud bangs,” the newspaper reported.

“He stood up and noticed the whole garage was ‘hazy-looking’,” then fire and thick, black smoke started moving in his direction.

“Mr. Godber’s space was near an exit, so he got into a Ferrari and drove it out of the building. He ran back inside to try to save the three other vehicles he was working on – the Bentley, which he said was worth $325,000 when it was new; a 1947 Dodge sedan, which was in the middle of restoration; and a 1995 Ford F-250, which he was trying to convert into a monster truck – but the flames and smoke were too strong.

“Mr. Godber said he thinks the Ferrari might be the only vehicle that survived the fire. He said he has heard that the vehicles lost in the fire total around $60 million.”

Meanwhile, in Ulster County north of New York City, a landmark used-car dealership that was being used as a set for the filming of an HBO series I Know This Much is True (staring Mark Ruffalo and Melissa Leo) caught fire around 2 a.m. May 9, reportedly damaging or destroying more than 20 cars, several said to be collectible vehicles from the 1980s including Chevrolet Camaros, etc.

Firefighters from 15 companies fought the glaze. No people were reported to be injured. For more details, see TheDrive.com  and a first-person account by Jamie Kidman, who supplied the cars for the HBO filming.

In Aberdeenshire, Scotland, a building used to restore old Jaguar and Land Rover vehicles was destroyed by fire


Larry Edsall
Larry Edsall
A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.



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