Owner Charles Gary and mechanic David Stratton extinguished an oil rag fire in this shop Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2020. (Courtesy photo)

Owner Charles Gary and mechanic David Stratton extinguished an oil rag fire in this shop Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2020. (Courtesy photo)

Port Townsend auto shop owner, employee put out fire

Quick response had blaze out before EJFR arrived

PORT TOWNSEND — The owner and a mechanic of Gary’s Cars and Trucks extinguished an oil-rag fire in the auto shop before firefighters arrived.

Owner Charles Gary and mechanic David Stratton found oil rags on fire in the shop Tuesday afternoon and hit them with two fire extinguishers and a water hose. They put out the fire before East Jefferson Fire Rescue firefighters arrived, Gary said on Wednesday.

“We were very lucky,” he said. “If it would’ve been after hours, we could’ve not had a shop or even cars, if it had spread.”

Firefighters arrived at the auto shop and dealership on Sims Way at 1:09 p.m. after a 9-1-1 call from Stratton to see smoke venting from the roof. Gary and Stratton were putting out the fire by themselves.

Firefighters remained long enough to make sure there were no remaining embers or other burning material, said Phyllis Speser, public information officer.

The cause of the fire remained under investigation Wednesday, Speser and Gary said.

The damage was minimal, mainly sheet-rock. Gary estimated repairs will cost between $500 and $1,000.

Assistant Fire Chief Brian Tracer, who is also county fire marshal, was impressed with Gary and Stratton’s quick response.

“This is what we teach in our fire extinguisher classes,” Tracer said.

“First have appropriately rated fire extinguishers where they can be easily accessed.

“Next make sure to properly maintain your fire extinguishers. In the event of a fire, call 9-1-1, and then, if the fire is small and you can safely do it, use the fire extinguisher to spray the base of the fire and hopefully put it out while backing away from the fire towards the exit.”


Jefferson County reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 5 or at [email protected].

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