The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

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January 24, 2013

Man's Corvette restoration dreams go up in smoke


After living out West for awhile, David Walker came home to Sharon with dreams of restoring cars in his retirement.

Among his prized possessions was a 1977 Corvette that he had been restoring for the last three years.

The ’Vette and two other cars were destroyed late Tuesday when a fire ignited in his garage at 632 S. Oakland Ave.

“I had $30,000 tied up in that garage,” said Walker. “We are devastated. We don’t know what to do next.” He has contacted his insurance agency.

Fire Chief Terry Whalen said, “The owner took great pride in his garage. It was well kept and very secure. Everything is a total loss up there.” He said the fire will most likely be ruled “accidental” but the official ruling is “undetermined,” pending further investigation.

Fire Capt. Brian Scarmack said he suspected that chemicals, paint cans, gasoline, aerosol cans or tires helped fuel the blaze.

Reports of gunshots or possible ammunition exploding in the garage forced fire trucks to park a block and a half away from the garage. Police could not confirm that there was ammunition in the garage.

“I heard a big bang like gunshots. Then sounds like someone was chipping ice,” said Zach Clark, who was inside his house a few doors down when the garage caught fire.

Firefighters, rescue workers and police arrived at about 10:40 p.m. A policeman who refused to identify himself said, “As we drove up Budd Street toward South Oakland, all we could see was a wall of fire.”

Although Tuesday’s fire is likely accidental, Whalen urged residents to continue to be vigilant and keep a watchful eye in their neighborhoods.

“People should call 911 if they see anything out of the ordinary or suspicious activity,” said Whalen. “If someone is breaking into a vacant structure, they are probably trying to steal scrap or copper wiring.

“Neighbors are sometimes the best sources. There are several people behind bars who’ve been charged with arson because of these investigations.”

The chief also encouraged residents to keep their homes safe. With the current cold snap, Whalen reminded people using space heaters to keep them 3 feet away from combustibles. He also suggested buying carbon monoxide detectors and to make sure smoke detectors are working.

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