STROUD TOWNSHIP– The fire that swept through Jim Weiss’s auto body shop near East Stroudsburg ruined 16 vehicles.
One of those was the Jeep that was supposed take Imani Gonzalez away to college this weekend.
The freshman and her mom were going to drive to Erie. Now those plans are up in the air.
“I don’t know what I am going to do,” said Gonzalez.
On Thursday, the Jeep was involved in an accident and it was brought it to Weiss’s shop on Progress Street.
By daylight a state police fire marshal was looking for a cause.
Weiss was at home listening to the scanner around 4 a.m. when he heard the bad news.
“I just watched it burn from one end to the other, and there was nothing I could do about it,” said Weiss.
He said between the building, equipment, and vehicles, the losses total around half a million dollars.
While he does have insurance not everything is covered, for example, employee Steve Lyon’s tools.
“I probably have about $30,000 worth of tools, it is not easy to restart, that is for sure,” said Lyons.
Other damaged vehicles include a car belonging to the Stroud Area Regional Police, and a rare 1969 Mustang.
Not only are Weiss’ customers impacted, so is his family.
His grandson lost his car, and his son lost his motorcycle.
Jim’s son Benjamin Weiss said calls offering help are already coming in. He said he is certain his dad will rebuild.
“He likes just being able to produce something that is wrecked, just a bag of nothing and being able to turn it into something beautiful,” said Benjamin Weiss.
Weiss said his towing business is still up and running, and as soon as he can find a space he will begin doing body work again.