Owner of burning garage said they barely escaped alive

Posted at 11:48 PM, Apr 15, 2012
and last updated 2012-04-16 07:21:23-04

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) The black smoke and rising flames from a burning garage were hard to miss Sunday morning in Scott’s Addition.

"I've never seen anything move that quick in my life and nothing scared me as much as that," said A&F Garage owner Alex Andrewski.

Andrewski recalls hours after the fire how the flames multiplied every second he was inside.

"This whole place was full of smoke, flames were just running rampant," he said as he walked through charred remains of the building.

The fire began in an outside garbage container and then spread to the back of the store, combining with flammable car paint Andrewski and his brother-in law-were inside fixing a car at the time.

They tried to extinguish the fire but realized they'd risk their lives if they stayed any longer.

"I did absolutely everything I could do and I couldn't do anything it was the most helpless feeling I've ever had in my life," said Andrewski.

In clouds of thick black smoke they ran to escape.

"We barely got out with our lives," he said.

Both men were able to leave without injury but Andrewski says his livelihood was a total loss Sunday. With no insurance for the garage, he says the fire burned through all he'd ever saved, all he had.

"I'm just sitting there watching all my life saving go and we just opened the place March first," he said.

The career mechanic and father of six said this fire collapsed his family's future, the business structure he hoped would support them.

He said he’s dreading tomorrow when he wakes up for work and finds he has nowhere to go.

"I don't know I don't see any light at the end of the tunnel, I'm so financially hurt I mean it's your life savings in a matter of minute.”

READ MORE: Fire burns business in downtown Richmond