A BLAZE that erupted in the main building of Momsen Motors was so violently hot it caused concrete to explode and left cars welded to the ground recently says owner Jim Cooksley.
Mr Cooksley and his wife Julie received a phone call at 3.15am on September 21 to tell them the building was engulfed in flames.
He told the BDN he raced to the yard and had arrived by 3.25am to see his business ablaze.
The Cooksleys, who moved to the Bega Valley with a plan to semi retire, said the last two weeks had been, by far, the most devastating in their history.
Mrs Cooksley said she was amazed by the heat from the fire.
“The heat was unbelievable, even the concrete in the main workshop had exploded,” she said.
“The workers have lost all their tools and the extent of the damage is devastating.”
The pair said the blaze was so overwhelming it took fire crews from Merimbula, Bega, Narooma and volunteer crews from Bega and Jellat to bring it under control.
The Cooksleys extended their thanks and gratitude to all the firefighters involved.
Mr Cooksley said three separate forensic teams had scoured the remains and determined the cause of the blaze was an electrical fault.
“The forensics determined the fire started with an electrical fault near the main power board,” he said.
The pair said it wasn’t all doom and gloom as they were able to save “the luckiest car in the world”, which had been undamaged in the blaze, and the support they had received from the community in the last two weeks has been inspirational.
“[Police detective and retained fireman] Justin Marks has really gone above and beyond in showing compassion and continued support,” they said.
“Also Mat Wilton [security patrolman] and Jim Earnshaw, who moved vehicles out of harm’s way on the night of the fire.”
Both Mr and Mrs Cooksley also said their staff had gone above and beyond the call of duty.
“Everyone has pulled together and shown us just how wonderful our team is with their support and hard work,” they said.
“Everyone still has a job and they continue to do a great job with the little material and tools that are left.”
The couple said there would have been nothing to work from without the help of Wayne Crow from Core Vista IT, who had all the systems up and running the Monday after the fire at their new site.
They also thanked Jeff Black and Glen Umbers of MGM Panel Beaters, Peter Chapel from Telstra, fire brigade captain Gerard Hanscombe, Cecily Hancock and Jonathon Pyke from Bega Valley Shire Council for their assistance.
The pair also thanked Gerard Butler and Constable Josh White for helping manage traffic and patrolling the site after the fire, 2EC for providing morning tea to the staff, and Chris Osbourne for his “outstanding” effort altering the new workshop.
“Last but not least, a very special thanks goes to Mitch Pilbeam, we could not have done it without him,” Mr Cooksley said.
In the meantime the pair said they were delighted the insurance had cleared and works to demolish the rubble had begun.
“A new building can be built as soon as possible,” Mr Cooksley said.
“After 52 years of operation, not even a fire of this magnitude has been able to stop the business from opening as usual.
“At Momsen Motors Hyundai and Nissan it’s business as usual.
“We ask that you please continue to support us through the rebuilding and we look forward to showing off our new Nissan showroom and Hyundai-Nissan workshop.
“Julie and I are so glad that we live in the Bega Valley and extend our heartfelt thanks to all for your concerns and best wishes.”