NEWFIELD, N.Y. — A fire early Wednesday morning flared up again and again throughout the day as flames destroyed the Ryan’s Towing garage in Newfield.

According to witnesses, the fire started around 7 or 8 a.m. at the garage on 386 Shaffer Road.

McKenna Belden, 15, said her family was alerted to the fire when a passing motorist noticed the flames.

“A lady stopped because she saw it was on fire,” Belden said.

In the time it took her to get outside and for the fire department to get there, she said most of the garage where her father runs his shop out of was already gone, destroying at least two cars, motorcycles, tools, and other equipment used in the towing business. Fortunately, she said firefighters were able to keep the fire from spreading to other vehicles.

“I was pretty devastated because my car was in the back of the shop,” she said.

Her and her dad have been working on a tan 1980 FIAT Spider since she was 13-years-old, and she said it was nearly road ready, basically just needing new tires and a paint job.

The car would have been hers when she turned 16 on July 1.

Belden and her friend Ashli Pierce, who was also there when the fire broke out, walked around the charred garage Thursday afternoon.

They said firefighters returned to the garage several times Wednesday because hot spots kept flaring up unexpectedly.

Belden said that the day before the fire, a car had caught fire in the garage and caught some of the ceiling on fire. The fire department came by and put the fire out, and the vehicle was dragged out of the garage.  She said they’re unsure if that contributed to the Thursday morning blaze.

Luckily, her dad’s tow trucks were not in the garage, so the tow company can stay in business. But there was no fire insurance on the cars, the motorcycles or the building.

Nonetheless, Belden said they plan to clear off the site and rebuild the garage.

Jolene Almendarez

Jolene Almendarez is Managing Editor at The Ithaca Voice. She can be reached at jalmendarez@ithacavoice.com; you can learn more about her at the links in the top right of this box.