GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - It will be at least Thursday before investigators figure out what caused a spectacular fire in southeast Grand Rapids Tuesday night.
The fire gutted a building that's part of Lee Auto Exports , an auto scrap yard at College and Cottage Grove SE in Grand Rapids.
All that's left standing is a single wall on the west end of the building that houses the business. It took about a dozen Grand Rapids fire crews to bring it under control.
There is so much damage, sifting through the remains to find the cause will be difficult. So investigators will look at security surveillance video taken at the time of the fire for clues.
The video may not tell them exactly where or how the fire started, "but it can point us in the right direction to look," said GRFD fire investigator Ric Dokter. "It's a big building. And if we have a place to start, that makes our job that much easier."
Co-owner Angel Maldonado estimates the damage will run around $200,000.
The damage wasn't limited to inside the building. A wall crushed a row of vehicles waiting to be stripped for parts in the yard.
The Tuesday night blaze was not the first fire at the business.
In March 2008, an adjacent building was the scene of another spectacular blaze. Sparks from a welding torch from a private contractor working on the building set that fire, which became part of a Target 8 investigation that exposed the problems caused by fire touched off by welding and grinder sparks and questioned the fire department's efforts to deal with those problems.
Investigators said it's much too early to make a call on Tuesday's fire.
The business uses torches and grinders in their operation. Maldonado said they shut that equipment down and turned off the electrical supply an hour before everyone goes home to make sure sparks don't cause a smoldering fire.
They did the same thing Tuesday night.
But at this point, investigators aren't ruling anything out.
"Certainly it is a source of ignition for an operation like this, so we will be looking at that," Dokter said.
GRAM Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony in front of a festive downtown crowd at Rosa Parks Circle Friday night.
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