Tragedy Strikes!

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 Tragedy Strikes Two of Our Own


      As many of you may know, I acquired a large workshop/garage several years ago to have a place to store my LBCs, work on them and pursue various restorations projects. My son and his friends also used the shop to work on their trucks, cars and motorcycles and it became a gathering place for various ages of automotive enthusiasts. The BAMG Club has held several events there and it has served as the starting place for many rides.
     That all came to an end this past weekend when one of the vehicles my son’s best friend, Brian, was working on caught fire, exploded and set the garage on fire. Emergency vehicles from Hopkinton, Ashland and Westborough responded quickly, but the garage was a total loss. My son’s friend was caught in the explosion and suffered serious, but non life threatening 1st and 2nd degree burns on his arms, face and back. He is in the hospital and doing as well as he can, but will have a challenging and painful road to full recovery.

      While the investigation is still underway, it is obvious that the garage and it’s contents are a total loss. All of the tools, car parts, supplies, heavy equipment and a 30+ year collection of memorabilia and resource materials have been lost. Fortunately, none of my collector cars were at the shop at the time, as they were getting ready to be put away for winter storage. The landlord’s insurance will cover the damages to the building, but I was unable to secure affordable insurance for the contents, so that will be my loss. While that will be significant and I will never be able to replace many of the items lost, I am thankful that it is only material things and it could have been much worse. My son is having a harder time dealing with this and I am working with him to deal with his sense of anger and loss and trying to get him to see the bigger picture.

     Now while this news is tragic enough, we have one other member of the Club that was impacted by the fire. We have been working with our Junior Member, James, to help him work on his 1979 MGB that he bought when he was just 15 years old. Many members have been generous enough to donate parts and time to this effort and it has been a great experience for James. We have been working on this project for the last two seasons and were nearing the end, as it was getting prepped for bodywork and paint in the coming weeks. Unfortunately, James’ car was in the garage at the time of the fire and was totally consumed. This would be devastating news for any car enthusiast, but it’s even more so for someone so new to the hobby and with his first car. Surprisingly, he has taken a very mature and philosophical view of these events, but I am sure he is hurting.
     Because this car was under restoration, it was not registered or insured. Many of the parts had been taken off in preparation for paint, but that is only a small fraction of the car and it is not salvageable. While it is too early to say how things will turn out and we have other more pressing issues with the fire, I hope that we can come up with a way to help James own the car of his dreams and show him that the hobbyist community is a tight knit and compassionate bunch. More about this in the months to come.
     Please keep Brian, James and my son Nathanael in your thoughts and prayers. There is much recovery and rebuilding ahead and we are just starting this journey. Also, take this as a reminder to check your insurance coverage, the safety & security of your home & garage and to always work smart and safe.
Thank you and God Bless,
KURT
Kurt Steele / President
Boston Area MG Club

UPDATE: Since this announcement went out, much has transpired and mostly good. I am happy to report that Brian is healing well and is now out of the hospital and recovering at home. It looks like he will not have any scarring on his face, but he will not be so lucky with his arms. He is in good spirits and we have helped to raise over $10,000 to help with his medical expenses.A GoFundMe page was set up for us to help with the cleanup and repair costs that are mounting up quickly. We have raised close to $3000 as of this posting, and are so grateful for all the love and support we have been receiving. Since none of the contents were covered, our losses are considerable and we are exploring our options. We would like to stay and rebuild, but that remains to be seen. We are hopeful that we will have a new home by spring, but it is all dependant on being able to raise enough funds to replace all the tools and equipment lost. If you would like to donate any used tools, supplies or help monetarily, please contact me directly at kurt.f.steele@gmail.com  Thanks to all who have been so generous. We are truly blessed!On the James front, he has been to the garage and seen his beloved car. He is still being amazingly calm about it and is more concerned about Brian and myself. While he was at the garage, he wanted the melted steering wheel as a reminder and a piece of “wall art”. I was happy to be able to remove it and give it to him. At this point, we are unsure what we will be doing to help James replace his lost dream car. Many BAMG Club members have expressed a desire to help, but we have other priorities at this moment. I’m sure we will come up with some way to make sure James gets to own an MGB in the future. Stay tuned for developments.


UPDATE 12/12/2016: I am happy to report that Brian is continuing the improve and his wounds are no longer requiring bandages. He is back in his own home, off heavy medications and is starting physical therapy. We wish him continued progress and hope to see him around soon.

The garage cleanup is now almost complete and we have filled a 40 yard dumpster! While it can be depressing to be at the garage, many people have offered assistance and support and it helps to keep things in perspective and moving forward.  The landlord has decided to rebuild, but on a much smaller scale and we will not have the opportunity to stay at that location. We are working to cleanup and vacate the building by year end so that it can be torn down and prepped for construction once spring comes. In the meantime, I have located another and bigger shop further west and taken a lease on it. It is a purpose built concrete block building with 12′ ceilings, a 10′ garage door, an office and a bathroom. It will need some TLC and an investment of funds to make it what we need, but it is a great space with plenty of room to do multiple projects at the same time. Watch this blog for updates.

The really great news is that several BAMG Club members have taken it upon themselves to replace James burnt up MGB. They have pooled their resources and contacts and located another MGB and acquired it. They are now in the process of addressing it’s mechanical and structural needs and are working to have the car ready to present to him as a Christmas present shortly. In a world full of bad news and selfish actions, this turn of events brings back my faith in humanity. I am so proud to be a part of an organization that is working to keep a young man’s dream alive and doing it organically, without a lot of prodding or self congratulatory attitudes. You guys (and gals) rock!!

 

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