Cape May County auto shop destroyed in blaze -

Cape May County auto shop destroyed in blaze

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Photo from Jeff Casella Photo from Jeff Casella

Firefighters spent the afternoon battling a blaze in Lower Township after a local business caught on fire. The shop owner says he is looking for the next step, now that his business is destroyed.

It didn't take long for the sky in Lower Township to fill with gloom on Monday afternoon, when black smoke began to fill the air.

A dark cloud that Jane Kashlak says could be seen for miles. "We were in the house and we heard a loud explosion. We ran out of the house and saw a huge cloud of smoke."

The explosion happened just after one 1:00 P.M. at 'Cape May Used Auto Parts' on Shunpike Road.

Shop owner Bob Cummiskey says a simple accident escalated out of control. "I was removing a tank from a vehicle and it fell and hit a drop light." That's when Cummiskey says the drop light burst into flames.

The fire was more than him or the two other people inside of the building at the time could handle. They had to evacuate immediately.

"We had a couple of big extinguishers, but it wasn't enough," said Cummiskey.

When firefighters arrived on scene they say the entire building was engulfed in flames. While it didn't take them long to put the fire out, they say because the blaze had already spread, there wasn't much they could do to salvage the structure of the building.

"It's all fire related, and about a dozen explosions happened while we were here," said Town Bank Fire Chief, Lewis Megonigal. "The material inside, probably five gallon buckets of cleaners or gases, whatever they were storing."

Cummiskey says he has owned the used auto parts shop for 36 years. As he looked at the rubble that has taken the place of where his business once stood, he says he isn't sure what to do next. "I don't know. I'm speechless. It's the first time, so I don't know what to think or do right now."

Officials say at least eight different fire departments responded to the scene. No one was injured.

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