Early morning fire ravages Davenport towing business | Local News

An early morning fire Saturday Feb. 5 at Gerster’s Triple E Towing and Repair Inc. on State Route 23 in Davenport destroyed a garage and all equipment and trucks inside.

According to East Meredith Fire Chief David Briggs, the fire call came in at 3.40am from a neighbor across the street. The garage was completely engulfed in flames when the caller reported the fire and Briggs said he called the Davenport and Pindars Corners Fire Departments for mutual aid.

Phil Gerster, owner of Gerster’s Towing, is also the Chief of the Davenport Fire Department.

“I was shocked when I heard the address,” Gerster said. “I was woken up by the caring tones. It was a terrible way to find out. It was hard.”

In addition to the East Meredith, Davenport and Pindars Corners fire departments, “Meridale sent a full response team and we requested tankers from Schenevus, Jefferson and Stamford,” Briggs said.

Firefighters had to contend with “brutally cold temperatures,” Gerster said. The City of Davenport’s Highway Department sent a snowplow truck to sand the driveway to ensure fire trucks could get down the driveway and to prevent firefighters from slipping on the ice, a- he declared.

Briggs said it was so cold that some of the “tankers started to freeze”, with the fire largely out. “We were lucky there were no breakdowns or injuries,” he said.

The fire destroyed the lower wrecker workshop which housed two heavy 50-ton tow trucks and a recoil tow truck, Gerster said. The fire also destroyed 25 truck tires, all tools, and Gerster’s personal motorhome, lawnmower, and side-by-side motorcycle.

Since the initial call, the East Meredith Fire Department has had to return to the scene to extinguish hot spots caused by refueling tires and wood pellets, Briggs said.

Members of the Davenport Fire Department Auxiliary brought coffee, breakfast sandwiches and water to the firefighters, Briggs and Gerster said.

Gerster said he “does not have the words to express how grateful I am for the heartwarming response that has been given to me during this time”.

He said after the fire spread he was contacted by Approved Towing in Oneonta and Eklund Farm Machinery in Stamford to see how they could help. Both companies will assist Gerster’s in providing towing for contracted companies. Gerster said he was able to purchase a tow truck which was delivered on Saturday and has purchased a brand new truck which will be delivered in two weeks, and he is looking for a third tow truck to purchase.

“I have great customers and great employees and we will continue to serve everyone,” Gerster said. “We’ll be back on our feet in no time.”

The cause of the fire is being investigated by the State Bureau of Fire Prevention and Control’s Fire Investigation Branch and Delaware County Fire Investigators. Once the cause is determined, Gerster said, he plans to clean up the site and rebuild it.

Vicky Klukkert, editor, can be reached at [email protected] or 607-441-7221. Follow her @DS_VickyK on Twitter.

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