At least eight vehicles went up in flames when a fire of still unknown cause swept through an auto repair and tire shop along Chalan Pale Arnold Road in Puerto Rico late Monday night to early Tuesday morning.
When Saipan Tribune left the scene at 2:35am yesterday, firefighters were still trying to extinguish the blaze that had engulfed the Si Tong Auto Shop and Si Tong Tire Shop.
The owner of the shops, identified only as Mr. He, said the burned vehicles belonged to his customers and that he managed to save three cars during the fire.
He said the firefighters were slow to act and did not have enough supply of water.
He said he was inside his office when he heard some people yell, “Fire.” He said the fire started in the barracks behind the shops, but that no one was at the barracks at that time.
He tried to extinguish the blaze using a fire extinguisher and managed to drive three vehicles away from the flames, but the fire was already big and was spreading rapidly.
His own vehicle was not affected because it was parked away from the shops.
Mr. He started operating the shops five years ago. His workers describe him as a very nice employer.
Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services spokesman Derek Gersonde said that firefighters received a call about the structure fire on Monday at 11:43pm and that the fire was placed under control at 3:13am yesterday.
No one was reported injured.
Gersonde said firefighters from Susupe, Garapan, and Koblerville fire stations were dispatched to the scene on Monday at 11:45pm.
Gersonde said DFEMS investigators were on scene to determine the cause of the fire. “Updates will be released when available,” he said.
Saipan Tribune learned from some workers at Si Tong Auto Shop that the fire possibly started at a barracks occupied by two workers behind the shop.
More than 10 vehicles were in the shop.
The shops’ owner and his son live in the building.
Explosions could be heard as the blaze consumed the vehicles.
A worker said they went to the shop after receiving a call about the fire. When they arrived, the fire was already large. The worker said they wanted to help extinguish a small fire that started near a car, but the police prevented them from doing so. The worker said that even a bottle of water would have helped prevent the scattered small fires from reaching the vehicles.
While firefighters were trying to control the blaze, police re-routed traffic flow in the area to Industrial Drive.