LANGLEY, B.C. — A collection of classic vehicles worth millions of dollars was destroyed Wednesday when fire raced through a building in Langley, B.C.
Alyn Edwards, a columnist who writes about classic cars and a good friend of the owners, Garry and Darlene Cassidy, said they are devastated by the loss.
The couple were on their way home from the United States after learning of the fire, he said.
Edwards said he spoke with Garry Cassidy on the phone. The couple had been in Las Vegas at a classic car auction.
"He's in tears, these cars are so important to him and he said that insurance can pay out what they will on these cars, but they are absolutely irreplaceable."
Edwards said there were about 40 classic cars in the building, most of them General Motors vehicles from the 1950s and '60s.
"This is a building that was built in the last year. They were so proud of it," he said. "It was a showcase and showroom for the cars, with a lot of memorabilia, a lot of electric signs and things like that."
Edwards said the collection contained two 1955 Pontiac Star Chiefs, including a rare Safari station wagon, and Cassidy was proud of his matching set.
The collection had many trophy cars, including a Camero, Impalas, and Chevelles, Edwards said, adding it was valued at between $2 million and $3 million.
"What Garry told me was that it doesn't matter what kind of monetary value will be paid out on these cars, many of the cars irreplaceable."
The vehicles were insured, said Edwards, who is an avid collector himself.
"I just can't imagine having a lifetime of collecting wiped out like this and what that would do to somebody."
Deputy fire chief Bruce Ferguson of Langley Township said an alarm system alerted them to a fire early Wednesday, but by the time they arrived the flames were shooting out the roof of the two-storey building.
Ferguson said the cars would have contributed to the fuel load. There were several explosions during the fire, which could have been fuel tanks or vehicle tires, he said.
The cause of the fire in the roughly 740-square-metre building hasn't been determined.
"Whenever there is a fire when there's nobody home we always deem it as suspicious before we start our investigation but that can't be confirmed until we get through our investigation," Ferguson said.
The building did not have a sprinkler system and Ferguson said there were no injuries fighting the fire.