UPDATE: Athens business picks up the pieces after Friday mornin - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

UPDATE: Athens business picks up the pieces after Friday morning fire

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ATHENS, TN (WRCB) -

UPDATE:  An Athens car repair shop went up in flames on Friday morning, destroying the business.

"Nearly 30 years, my hard work, that's what that is," said Robert Millsaps, who has owned Friendly City Auto Care for 27 years.

"This is all blood family. Most of us share the same last name, and the customers that come in, a lot of them are like my extended family," Millsaps said.

It's been a rough holiday season for his family.

"We just came from a (family member's) funeral last night, and, you know, then we're dealing with this today," he said. "Not even in a span of 12 hours."

Firefighters still aren't sure what started the fire. Around 6 a.m., flames quickly tore through the roof, destroying all of the shop's tools and several customers' cars that were waiting on repairs.

Athens Fire Chief Jim Dyer told Channel 3 the building was a total loss.

Millsaps might feel discouraged, but says he'll make it -- and so will the business.

"I'm gonna roll with them punches," he said. "I've been swung at a lot in my life, trust me. Ain't nobody ever knocked me down yet, and I don't see it happening now."

In the meantime, he will lean on the tight-knit community's support.

"The name on this building says it all. This is the motto of this town. And this is what we are."

The auto shop owns several wreckers. They will continue their towing business until they can replace the tools and find a new place to do repairs.

The auto care center had insurance. No injuries were reported. The state fire marshal is investigating.


PREVIOUS STORY: Firefighters are on the scene of a serious fire at the Friendly City Auto Care business in Athens, Tennessee.

The fire began around 6 a.m. and witnesses say the building is still burning as of 8 a.m. Witnesses say the 700 block of West Madison Avenue is blocked off for emergency vehicles.

"They're spraying water on it, there's tons of smoke but not as high as it was when I first saw it," said one witness who works next door.

Friendly City Auto Care provides a variety of services including oil changes and tune ups.

The Athens City Fire Department is on the scene with other agencies assisting as needed. No injuries have been reported according to dispatch.

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