Best Finish Auto Sustains Substantial Damage In Thursday Morning Fire

The Best Finish Auto Sales & Service building on Sharp Street in Glenwood sustained major damage during an early-morning fire on Thursday.

Fire investigators determined spontaneous combustion of some oily rags is to blame for an early-morning fire Thursday that gutted a major portion of a Best Finish Auto Sales and Service building at 209 E. Sharp St. in Glenwood.

“When we got there, flames were coming from the roof and from the front side where siding covered that window area,” Glenwood Fire Chief Matt Gray said. “It burned through there. It basically started in the garage. There’s a tool bench there.”
Gray said the heat in the building had escalated by the time firefighters arrived because of galvanized tin siding on the walls and ceiling in the structure.

“It was like an oven in there,” he said. “It was hot in there. Basically, it was like putting a cookie sheet in the oven and turning it up and putting a bunch of stuff on top of it.”
Gray said firefighters spent considerable time pulling down the tin siding on the walls and ceiling.

The fire caused extensive damage to several vehicles, tools and equipment inside the building, Gray said. The major damage was contained primarily to the garage area of the building, according to the fire chief.

“Over on the west end, which is the office side, it sustained a lot of heavy smoke and a little bit of water damage, but it was basically contained,” he said. “It was basically contained before it spread to that other side, We were able to get it slowed and basically keeping it from spreading through the whole building.”

Gray said the Iowa State Fire Marshall’s Office was asked to investigate the fire scene because of the extensive damage to the vehicles and equipment in the building.

“There were no issues with it being intentionally set or anything like that, but I called the fire marshal that morning due the high dollar value of vehicles and also with the equipment and tools that were in the garage,” he said.

The blaze was reported by a Mills County Sheriff’s Deputy who spotted the fire while on patrol.

Gray said a couple of firefighters experienced minor heat and smoke-related medical issues while fighting the fire but there were no major injuries.

Glenwood firefighters were assisted at the scene by mutual aid responders from Council Bluffs, Malvern, Oak Township, Silver City and Red Oak.

Best Finish Auto has been in business at the location for about 20 years. Owner Dana Liddick has expanded both the sales and service sides of the business in recent years.

In Facebook posts on Thursday and Friday, Best Finish Auto thanked firefighters and law enforcement personnel who responded to the fire and also let the community know the business is still open despite the damage.

“Yes our business has had a fire but it didn’t affect our body shop or service department,” a post on Friday stated. “Our sales team is also here to assist you with the purchase of your new vehicle. Please call and schedule your appointments. We would love to help you with all your needs.Thank you for the continued support.”

Keg Creek Oil Concerns
The Iowa Department of Natural Resources announced on Thursday afternoon that the agency was investigating an oil spill into Keg Creek related to the fire at Best Finish Auto.

According to the DNR, first responders at the scene reported that an unknown amount of oil had made its way into storm drains flowing into Keg Creek. Further investigation revealed a maximum of 240 gallons of oil, 120 gallons of used oil, 80 gallons of transmission fluid and 80 gallons of antifreeze were in the facility at the time of the fire.

Local crews added sand berms near the storm drain to help mitigate the product and fire water mixture from entering the drains. DNR staff later observed an oily sheen in Keg Creek approximately three miles south of the incident.

An environmental company was on-site and working with the DNR on cleanup efforts. Water samples were collected and no dead fish were observed, according to the DNR.


The Opinion-Tribune

116 S Walnut St Glenwood, IA 51534-1665
P.O. Box 377, Red Oak, IA 51566
Phone: 712-527-3191
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