GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) - An auto repair shop in southeast Grand Rapids is a total loss after fire raged through the building. Flames were first reported at 8:22 p.m. Tuesday at Lee Auto Export, located at 1515 College Ave. SE.
Authorities tell WZZM 13 that employees had left around 8 p.m. and no one was inside at the time of the fire. There were about 15 vehicles inside the building.
Eyewitnesses reported hearing several small explosions as flames shot into the air. Several walls of the building collapsed from the intense heat.
At one point, residents tell WZZM 13 they were instructed to use garden hoses to spray their houses to prevent falling embers from causing small roof fires in a nearby neighborhood. However, no secondary fires were reported.
At the peak of the blaze, Grand Rapids firefighters had 15 trucks on the scene and called for assistance from the Kentwood Fire Department.
Firefighters gained control of the fire around 9:30 p.m. but continued to work to put out hot spots. Arson investigators are on the scene but authorities say it could turn out a smoldering car started the fire.