Traverse City Auto Parts Company Reacts To Fire

And owners of the auto parts business are devastated tonight after their family business went up in flames.

Millions of dollars of equipment were lost in the flames.

Now the nearly 60 year old business will try to rebuild.

The flames are out tonight, but the feelings of loss are still setting in.

The owners and employees of Gene’s Auto Parts Shop are coming to terms with the fire that turned their world upside down.

"Starting over at almost 60 years old. I don’t know and my brother worried about him. He’s this is going to be hard on him. And all our employees," said Clay Denman.

Gene’s Auto Parts Co-Owner Clay Denman was out of town when he got the call that put him on the first plane home.

"I got a call from my daughter. Didn’t think it was this bad. Just thought it was we have a firewall that should have stopped the fire from going into the main building. I don’t know why it went into the main building," he said.

The fire was dying down when he got to the scene and took that first look at the destruction in front of him.

Then Clay’s attention turned to his employees.

"We’ve got some great employees and you’ve got to pay them somehow you know it’s going to be a long road but we’ll do it. It’s going to be tough physically mentally emotionally but what do you do," he said.

35 loyal workers plan to stand by his side.

And from the ashes, start from the ground up.

"We are going to have to go through see what’s there see what’s salvageable if anything and if not how can we start and where do we start getting things in order," Matt Bouschor said.

Promising their customers, even though the fire destroyed their building, it could never destroy the business and people behind it.

"I just hope all our customers bear with us. We deal with people all over the state of Michigan and all over the United States and hopefully they keep calling and it’s going to take some time but we will be back," said Perry Vandermeulen.

"It’s all about moving forward what else are you going to do," said Clay Denman.

Blair Township Fire Department says employees were working on cars with a torch and the gasoline from those cars is what ignited flames.