The staff of Rene's Auto Body in Salt Pond are in cleanup mode Friday, after a massive fire at its scrapyard destroyed an entire year's inventory of stripped-down cars, just about to be sold.
That fire is now out, with the Burin businesses owners taking stock of their losses.
"It's like a farmer: you're sowing your seeds and then harvest season comes and it's gone," said co-owner Tracey Brushett, estimating more than 400 cars were reduced to burnt metal and ash in the fire, which began Thursday evening.
Brushett said a big part of their business is collecting junk cars and stripping off their valuable metals for sale and recycling, before stockpiling them to be crushed once a year and taken off the mainland for further recycling. That crusher was set to arrive Monday for the load.
"It's a profitable thing, as well as environmentally sound," she told CBC Radio's St. John's Morning Show on Friday.
"The revenue from that carried us through the winter."
But that revenue went up in smoke as flames shot into the sky, alerting local fire crews around 6:30 p.m. Thursday. Firefighters from three departments battled the fire, with a water bomber also responding to douse the fire's perimeter.
Brushett credited the water bomber for containing the fire, and said by the time she and her husband arrived around midnight, there were only a few hot spots left, with firefighters remaining throughout the night to ensure there were no flare-ups.
As staff sort through the remains Friday morning and tidy up the area, Brushett said there's no word yet exactly how the fire started.
"What triggered it, we're not really sure, if it was a piece of broken glass that just got caught in the sun, that hasn't been determined yet. But of course, once one car caught fire that was it, they were all gone," she said.
While it's a blow to the business, Brushett said no one was injured and their shop itself is intact — and it could have been much worse.
"The way the wind was blowing — and it was a bit of an intense wind — it took the fire away from our building, it took it away from the gas station, from the hospital. It was really a miracle."
Brushett said their business is insured.