Fire leaves family business of 63 years smoldering

Fire leaves family business of 63 years smoldering

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Big clean up operations are underway at three locations in and around Columbus, after fires at one apartment and two businesses in the last 24 hours.

Stevens Hauling Contractors' property was one of the three that went up in flames, devastating a family business that has been in the area for more than six decades.

"This is not just our job, this is our family's livelihood," said Vice President Mike Stevens.

Three generations woke up to a terrible surprise Tuesday morning when they found their family business of more than 63 years smoldering.

"Daddy had $1,500 and he bought a dump truck with it, few days after that mamma wanted a candy bar, wasn't but a nickel but Daddy said we don't have a nickel, we put $1,500 in the truck," said Stevens.

However, the cost of equipment has gone up since the 50's, and now the Stevens' family faces hundreds of thousands of dollars in losses.

"We've lost our shop, we've lost two $150,000 trucks but we got 16 trucks and we could have lost them all, and people could have been killed," said Stevens.

Stevens explained that firefighters believe lightening struck one of their trucks parked outside during a storm.

The fire then allegedly moved into their shop where it met canisters of oil and antifreeze, causing explosions through the roof.

"My daddy and momma live on the corner down here and during the night it was thundering and lightening so they even heard some booms but thought it was the thunder," said Stevens.

Despite the devastation that brought their business to a halt this morning, the family says they are choosing to stay positive, focus on their insurance claim, and cleaning up the mess.

"Things in life may get you down, but the winners are the ones that doesn't keep them down, everybody's going to fall, but winners get back up again," said Stevens.

At this time Columbus fire officials do not believe any of the fires are related, and all are still under investigation.

One woman suffered non life threatening second-degree burns at one of the fires at an apartment, and a firefighter suffered a minor injury at Franks Collision Center where the third fire broke out, however that firefighter was not transported by ambulance.

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