Fresno wrecking yard fire causes over $500k damage

September 13, 2009 11:13:30 AM PDT
Jerry Turner and his workers have been here all day Saturday, cleaning up. They hope to get back into business within a week or so. But the fire took a toll on this business, and the man who's run it for half a century.The fire destroyed the main office, the heart of the operation. As the flames shot into the night sky owner Jerry Turner couldn't do much but watch it burn. He was devastated.

Jerry Turner said: "And this is just one of the things, I don't really know where to start. "

But, just hours later Turner got started. Working a piece of heavy equipment to clear away the damage.

Jerry Turner said: "My thoughts are we've got to get this mess cleaned up."

Going through the remains of the office and shop he still can't quite believe it.

Jerry Turner said: "Forty, forty nine years is what I've been here. And I never, ever thought this could happen. I just never ever thought this could happen."

He was heartened though to see not everything was lost.

So, that's an engine for what?

Jerry Turner said: "A 1927 Packard dual cowl convertible sedan."

He thinks the engine survived, and can be put back in the car, which is stored elsewhere. In fact just about all of his 10,000 vehicle inventory is intact. But the fire destroyed sales records and parts that were about to be shipped. Some customers will have to wait.

Jerry Turner said: "We're gonna have to wait until they start calling saying, hey where's my fender for my Rolls Royce, or whatever it happened to be."

Jerry hopes to get a temporary office up within a week, but things won't ever be like they used to be.

We did a story on Turners in 1996 and this is the place many remember: A bustling operation with parts men behind the counter and in the yard filling orders from local folks and customers around the world.

Friday night's fire was the second fire at Turners in 5 weeks. The losses are estimated at more than half a million dollars. And Turner said the damage won't be covered by insurance. He's putting the place back together, but isn't sure how much longer he'll be here.

Jerry Turner said: "This isn't closing me down as such, but it's putting me one step closer."

Investigators haven't figured out what caused last Friday night's fire. The earlier fire was accidentally started by a worker with a welding torch. Turner said a temporary office will be in place soon, and the world's largest auto wrecking yard will be back in business, for awhile anyway.

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