LIBERTY TOWNSHIP —
Myers Auto Repair in Liberty Township is back in business after a devastating fire last April destroyed the shop, but picking up the pieces hasn’t been easy.
“It’s something you don’t expect to ever happen in your lifetime,” said Sandra Myers, wife of Clarence “Sonny” Myers, who opened the shop about 34 years ago at 28 Browntown Road, which is next to their mobile home.
Though fire officials believed a wood-burning stove may have started the fire, the cause of the April 2 blaze was ruled “undetermined,” and the insurance payment was less than $10,000, said Mrs. Myers, who spoke on behalf of her husband, a man of almost 75 who tinkered in his shop as she sat in their kitchen.
“It wasn’t a fancy business, but it was something done by his two hands,” she said of Myers, who is an Army veteran.
Their home was also damaged by the fire as were several vehicles, the business’ computer system and equipment used to inspect vehicles; the damage estimate was about $100,000.
“No one knows what the aftermath is like,” Mrs. Myers said, noting they are still without a working oven because of the fire.
There’s a misconception that insurance will cover the entire cost of rebuilding after a fire, she said, adding they can’t afford to buy a new emissions inspection machine, which costs about $5,000.
It was difficult at first to move on, especially since there was a lot of rubble to clear and Myers continues to mourn the loss of the mother cat and kittens that kept him company at the original garage; they perished in the fire.
“It was hard for me to watch him go through that loss,” Mrs. Myers said.
The Myerses, who have been married for nearly 53 years and raised 10 children, were pulling into their driveway the night of the fire, right after their son Justin and his wife Krista had called 911 to report flames coming from the roof of the wood frame garage. The younger couple lives next door with their 5-month-old son, Jason.
“We didn’t just lose. My son and his family lost, too,” Mrs. Myers said of the income the business brings in for both families.
They’re all thankful no one was hurt. But it is painful for them to think of the family photos and other mementos they lost; the Myerses’ oldest child, Clarence Myers III, who was killed in a car crash 19 years ago last Saturday, helped start the business.
The kindness of others and prayer have kept them going. A spaghetti dinner fundraiser was held shortly after the fire, bringing in $761, and friends and customers supplied the new garage with tools. A small wooden sign hangs on one wall and says, “I get by with a little help from my friends.”
“I’m the kind of person who doesn’t like to ask for help,” Mrs. Myers said.
The Henricks family, who owns a towing and repair business in Grove City and is also their neighbor, has supported the Myerses in many ways, including helping build the new garage.
“Katie and Eric are still helping us,” Mrs. Myers said of the Henrickses and their two young sons.
And they are making do with what they have, even though they can’t perform every part of a vehicle inspection required by Pennsylvania law. If someone needs the complete inspection, Myers will do part of it, then send the customer to Henricks for the emissions part. The patriarch of the Myers family loves what he does, and he was still helping customers in need of small vehicle repairs shortly after the fire, even without a garage over his head, his wife said.
“He says, ‘I’m not giving up because I have to take care of my family,’” Mrs. Myers said of her husband’s work ethic.
The only time he was forced to take a break was in November, when he fell off a ladder in the garage and fractured a vertebrae in his lower back, an injury that requires him to wear a back brace at times.
“The horses couldn’t keep him in there that day,” she said of his two-day hospital stay in Pittsburgh, adding the Henrickses drove them back home.
While they continue to make headway on the new garage and hope to build up their customer base again, the Myerses are reminding themselves to count their blessings, like their new grandson, even when times get tough.
“We’re survivors,” Mrs. Myers said. “What some people take for granted, I consider a privilege. We have to be there for each other.”
To contact Myers Auto Repair, call 724-458-6516; to get in touch with the Myers family, call 724-264-4731.