INDIANAPOLIS (July 16, 2004) — Eugene Hendricks, owner/president of Petro's Tire Sales & Service Inc., is debating how or where to rebuild one of his stores destroyed this month by arson.
His Linton, Ind., store caught fire just before 3 a.m. on July 1, Mr. Hendricks said. The fire marshal has determined the incident an arson.
Chance Schubla, 20, of Linton was arrested this week in connection with the arson, the local police department said. More arrests may follow, the department said.
The fire likely started around a trash container that was near a covered shed with tires waiting for pickup by a recycler, Mr. Hendricks said. The shed and container also were near a warehouse that sat behind the main storefront. The heat from the fire became so intense that it caused the explosions of various gas tanks that Petro's also sold.
“They became a bomb,” Mr. Hendricks said, adding those explosions woke a nearby resident who called the fire department.
Mr. Hendricks himself was in South Dakota on a missionary trip to a Native American reservation. He heard about the fire by 6:30 a.m. that morning, but decided to finish his trip. “You can't do anything about a fire burning,” he said.
Though the fire in the back building spread to the front, firewalls in the early 1900s-era buildings prevented the fire from spreading throughout the whole block, Mr. Hendricks said. The fire destroyed about $270,000 worth of inventory, two service trucks and a company pickup.
“As far as we're concerned, it's a total loss,” he said.
Now Mr. Hendricks is looking to either rebuild or find another site in Linton. He hopes to start up quickly because the rural city is far from larger cities. “It's going to be awhile before we rebuild,” he said.
The company has six other shops plus a Goodyear retread plant. Petro's, a commercial, farm and retail dealership, sells primarily Goodyear, Kelly, Cooper and Sumitomo brands. Mr. Hendricks bought the business in 1981 and opened the Linton store five years ago.