On Thursday night, an enormous five-alarm fire destroyed six businesses at the Old Woolen Mill warehouse in Charlton, MA. One of the businesses was Werke Classic Coach, a classic car restoration company. Gary Cove, owner of Werke Classic Coach, told the Boston Globe that he lost more than $2 million worth of rare classic vehicles in the blaze.
All told, Cove lost 17 vehicles, including a $750,000 Mercedes, several Porsche 356s and 911s, two Jaguar E-Types and a 1933 Rolls Royce. Despite the massive loss, Cove was able to save several cars including a 1957 Mercedes 300SL valued at $800,000, a 1964 Shelby Cobra worth $700,000 and a $165,000 Alfa Romeo Giulia SS. Cove has owned Werke Classic Coach for 38 years, 22 of which were spent at Old Woolen Mill, making him the mill’s longest running tenant.
Though not a guarantee, Cove may have been able to rescue more vehicles if Charlton had fire hydrants. That’s right, the entire town of Charlton does not possess even a single working fire hydrant. As a result, fire officials made the decision to let the fire burn itself out. Fire crews were forced to use water from local waterways and set up makeshift ponds to help contain the fire. Six firefighters suffered minor injuries in the fire, but no one was seriously hurt. Overall, it took firefighters from 20 nearby towns to fight the fire.
State fire officials are currently investigating the fire, but Cove told The Worcester Telegram that he believes an illegal chop shop located inside the mill may be responsible.
“The issue was where they were cutting (cars), it was a container that was all wood,” said Cove to the newspaper. “I’ve told the town before; I’ve told the fire department before.”
Despite Cove’s claims, Jennifer Mieth, spokeswoman for the state’s fire marshal’s office told The Worcester Telegram that officials have not found anything suspicious thus far during the investigation.
Stay tuned for more information regarding the cause of the blaze.
Image: Wikipedia; 1957 Mercedes 300SL, similar to the one saved by Cove.