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Brookville Chevy owner ready to move forward after ‘rough weekend’

February 27, 2012

Brookville firefighters board a ladder bucket in preparation to fight a fire at No. 1 Brookville Chevrolet Buick Sunday night. (Photo by Larry McGuire/The Punxsutawney Spirit)

BROOKVILLE — No. 1 Brookville Chevrolet Buick has a more than 80-year history with the local business community.

And with all of that experience, the dealership’s current owner, Ralph Gamble, is confident his business will be able to bounce back from a devastating weekend.

Around 10:30 p.m. Sunday, a fire broke out in the second floor of the dealership’s showroom, which is located on East Main Street in Brookville.

According to Brookville Volunteer Fire Company (BVFC) Chief Jim Lipuma, the fire originated from the furnace.

But only hours before, around 8 p.m. Saturday, the dealership experienced a water line break, which brought four to five inches of water into the showroom.

“We’ve had a rough weekend,” Gamble said.

The BVFC arrived on scene at 10:46 p.m. Sunday after a passing driver called Brookville Borough Police to report a fire.

“Whoever the bystander was, who happened to be going by and saw it, made our day, because if somebody wouldn’t have seen it, and it went on for a couple of more hours, then it would have been a very big fire,” Lipuma said. “Whoever called it in was really observant and helped to save the day.”

When Lipuma arrived on-scene, he saw an orange glow in the corner of the building where the furnace was located, but it looked to be contained in that area.

The first crew began to put water on the fire, but heard a gas line, so Lipuma ordered an evacuation of the building until the gas was turned off.

Once Lipuma deemed it safe to re-enter the building,firefighters had to open up the floor, tearing down underneath to the showroom level; they were on scene until around 2:35 a.m.

Fire companies from Brookville, Pine Creek, Reynoldsville and DuBois Hose Co. 3 responded to the fire. Jefferson County EMS, National Fuel, Brookville Borough Police, the Brookville Municipal Authority, the American Red Cross, Penelec and PennDOT also assisted at the scene, Lipuma said.

Route 322 was closed while firefighters fought the flames.

“They all showed up and did a wonderful job,” Lipuma said. “My firemen got in there and did a nice job.”

Lipuma said there were no injuries, and nothing looked suspicious.
In addition to some smoke damage, most of the damage was contained to the room that housed the furnace.

But the fire damage, coupled with the damage from the water line break, which destroyed the showroom’s computer equipment, could cost up to $100,000 in damage, Gamble said.

However, no cars were destroyed.

“The fire companies did an excellent job,” Gamble said. “They contained it just to a smaller area of the second floor.”

Despite the difficult weekend, Gamble, who has owned the dealership for five years and worked for No. 1 Brookville Chevy Buick’s previous owner before taking over, is ready to move forward.

Parts & Service is located across the street from the business’s showroom, so No. 1 Brookville Chevy Buick will be operating sales from that building.

“We are still open for business,” Gamble said. “We’ll take care of our customers — the whole nine yards.”

According to Gamble, the showroom was originally built as a car dealership in the 1930s and has had four owners, including Gamble, since that time.

“The core of our business comes from repeat customers,” Gamble said. “And this is a fine local community that supports you every way they can. We’re pleased with what we do here.”

Gamble said he will begin to repair what was damaged in the showroom, but his No. 1 concern right now, is to make sure his customers are taken care of. He said his business is definitely staying open.

“... There’s no question about that,” Gamble said. “It’s my life. This is what I do. Naturally, I’m very saddened by what has happened, but it could have been a lot worse, had it not been for the local fire departments.”

When it comes to children riding in cars, safety always comes first.
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