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Gas leak, shattered lamp spell disaster

South Boston News
DESTRUCTION — By the time firefighters arrived Tuesday to the scene of the Beard’s Auto Repair fire, the building was consumed by flames. (Regina Keichline photo)
SoVaNow.com / January 31, 2013
Two persons were injured — one with severe burns that required an emergency airlift to a Chapel Hill, N.C. burn center — and five vehicles were destroyed in a Tuesday afternoon fire at an auto repair shop just off Bold Springs Road. A sixth vehicle also suffered some damage.

The conflagration sent plumes of smoke over a large area that spread into the town of South Boston. Injured were two employees of Beard’s Auto Repair Shop, located at 1089 Beard’s Trail just off Bold Springs Road.

Lloyd Newman was airlifted to the Chapel Hill University Burn Center with second and third degree burns to a leg and foot. The other employee, Sylvester Beard, was taken to the local emergency room, treated and released.

Emergency Services Coordinator Kirby Saunders confirmed late yesterday that the fire erupted after gasoline leaked from a vehicle and a falling shoplight shattered to ignite the pool.

The gas leaked out of a vehicle that had been raised up on a lift to have its fuel pump changed.

The men were using the shop light underneath the vehicle when it fell to the floor and broke right where the gasoline had spilled. It was at that spot that the fire started, Saunders said.

He said he was able to confirm the cause of the fire after talking with Newman yesterday at the hospital.

Moments after the call came in firefighters from South Boston, Turbeville and Cluster Springs rushed to the scene, only to find that flames had completely engulfed the single story cinder block building owned and operated by John Henry Beard.

The roof had collapsed by the time firefighters arrived. Two of the walls were falling down, making the blaze difficult to handle.

Valued at around $300,000, the shop and equipment were declared a total loss. The losses include four vehicles that were being worked on inside the building; the blaze also destroyed a vehicle parked outside nearby and impacted a second one. Saunders said one of the vehicles inside the shop was valued at somewhere between $6,000 to $8,000 with the value of the others as yet undetermined.





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