September 4, 2008 in City

Cause of North Side fire investigated

Two businesses, classic cars, Stockton’s boat damaged
By The Spokesman-Review
 
KATE CLARK photo

Investigators Jimmy Bowen, left, and Jason Reser examine fire damage at a warehouse at Napa Street and Grace Avenue in north Spokane on Wednesday.
(Full-size photo)

A retired pro athlete’s boat, three classic cars and a 28-year-old business were charred in a fire Tuesday night that caused more than $250,000 damage.

Fire investigators continue to look for the cause, officials said.

The blaze quickly turned into a two-alarm fire, said Brian Schaeffer, the Spokane Fire Department’s assistant chief. When firefighters arrived, flames and smoke were pouring from Custom Fiberglass and Northwest Soda Blasting, 2801 N. Napa St.

“We’re just devastated,” said Rod Tomsha, Custom Fiberglass owner. “You are here so long, and you just realize one day … I guess I’m not going to work.”

An employee who lives down the street from Custom Fiberglass was the first to see the blaze, Tomsha said. When the business owner arrived, he saw the fire trucks and several people standing around.

Tomsha has been at the Napa Street location since 1980 and has owned the business since 1975, he said.

One of the boats destroyed was owned by retired basketball star John Stockton, Tomsha said.

Tomsha said he did not know what the boat, a Sea Ray, was worth. “It had sentimental value more than anything else, because he’s owned it for a long time.”

Three boats inside the business were saved, Tomsha said. Firefighters and residents pulled them out.

At Northwest Soda Blasting, which shares the building, a 1946 Ford, a 1968 Chevy Impala and a 1968 Chevelle were trapped inside during the blaze, owner Joel Lange said. “I think we will be able to salvage them,” he added.

The blaze was a block from the site of one of the area’s largest industrial fires. The Whitley Fuel Depot fire in July 2007 caused $20 million in damage to the depot and nearby businesses and remains an unsolved arson.


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