Fire destroys Clover car dealership

CLOVER - An early morning fire destroyed a downtown Clover cardealership today. No injuries were reported.

”The dealership is a total loss,” Clover Fire Chief Charlie Love said.Officials responded around 3 a.m. to Rick Ford Inc., a decades-olddealership at 124 Kings Mountain St.

“The fire started in the upper end near the showroom, traveled north alongthe roof and consumed the whole workshop,“ Love said.

Owner Rick Dickerson, who lived in an apartment in the building, escaped uninjured, Lovesaid.

Untouched by the fire was the dealership’s blue and white signature Fordsign, once a beacon that drew potential car buyers to thedealership. Behind the sign, only charred bricks, metal, debris and rubbleremained.

The dealership, which sits next to Clover Presbyterian Church and across thestreet from Clover ARP Church, suffered heavy fire, smoke and water damage,Love said.

Damages to the building and contents are estimated at nearly $2 million, Love said.A building about a block away also suffered damage from the fire, Love said.“The wind blew embers from the fire to a nearby building,” he said.

The second building, which sits off Main Street, suffered heavy waterdamage, Love said. Damages are estimated at $10,000, he said.

As firefighters worked for more than two hours to contain the fire at thedealership, several explosions erupted from the mechanicalshop. Love said oil, brake fluid and other supplies stored in the shopcontributed to the explosions.

Several cars parked near the shop were destroyed, Love said.

”Two were burned pretty badly,” Love said as bellows of smoke poured into thesky.Officials have not determined how or where the fire started, Love said.

While the fire was contained within three hours, officials battled hotspotsas late as 8:30 a.m., Love said.

Onlookers spilled onto the street. Some hovered in clusters at the corner ofChurch and Kings Mountain Street. A look of disbelief clouded York police Sgt. BrianCarnes' face.

“It's a big loss to the town,” Carnes said about the dealership thatserviced his police cruiser about two months ago. “It¹s historic. I grew uphere in Clover, and it¹s been here as long as I can remember.”

Clover resident Jerry Nichols glanced at the building, where he too had his car serviced.

“It will never be the same,” Nichols said.

For more details, read Monday¹s The Herald.