Phoenix auto shop gutted

No one injured as blaze roars quickly through Ken's Automotive Repair
Flames and billowing smoke could be seen shooting out of the shop shortly after the fire ignited.Levi McDonald

PHOENIX — A two-alarm fire sparked by gas spilled on a work light ripped through a longtime automotive business in the heart of downtown late Friday morning.

Ken Peck, owner of Ken's Automotive Repair at 101 N. Main St., said he had been removing a gas tank from a car he'd been working on when fuel spilled onto the light.

"The place filled up with smoke so bad. I just had to get out of there," Peck said.

Peck was alone in the building and escaped without harm. He ran to a barber shop across the street to call 911.

Engines from Jackson County Fire District No. 5 and Medford Fire-Rescue responded after receiving the 11:30 a.m. call. District 5 Division Chief Darin Welburn said flames were shooting out of the building when crews arrived.

"Our station's less than a block away," Welburn said. "(It) already had flames shooting out on the front and entire side."

Crews knocked down the blaze in about seven minutes. The car Peck was working on was destroyed, and the building's interior was charred. The fire did not spread to the building next door. Welburn estimated the damage to the automotive shop to be a total loss.

"The whole building's gutted," he said.

The Main Street stretch between First and Second streets was closed during the fire, with northbound traffic being detoured onto Second Street.

Jason Sand, who works at nearby Al's Sharpening Service, said the flames and smoke coming off the building were significant.

"The garage door was on. It was just shooting flames out," Sand said.

Peck has been in business for nearly 25 years. He said the building is insured, but he doesn't know what the next steps will be.

"This was so quick I couldn't do anything about it," Peck said.

The automotive building was one of several considered ideal candidates for Phoenix Urban Renewal's facade improvement program, started last year. The 1,032-square-foot block building with a concrete floor was built in 1938 as part of the city's core. The building's real market value was listed as $83,600 this year, according to Jackson County property records.

Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or by email at

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