South Shields garage boss speaks of ‘devastation’ as fire causes more than £100,000 damage

‘Devastated’ manager of Garden Lane Garage, Alan Boak, has said the damage caused by last week’s blaze totals more than £100,000 and the business will not be able to fully reopen until after Christmas.

Last Thursday (October 6) a fire erupted at the garage at Evans Yard in the Templetown area of South Shields due to a “welding mishap” which resulted in

a van catching fire.

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Despite the best efforts of staff, the blaze took hold and businesses at the yard had to be evacuated as around 30 firefighters and seven appliances spent several hours battling to bring the blaze under control.

Garden Lane Garage workshop manager, Alan Boak, said the family are "devastated" following the fire.

While brave fire crews restricted the spread of the fire to surrounding businesses, it wreaked devastation on the garage.

Alan, 48, whose dad John owns the garage, said: “We are all completely devastated by what has happened. It’s a real family business with my dad’s grandson and nephew also employed here.

"All the equipment in the workshop has been totally destroyed, which totals around £100,000. We don’t yet know about the cost of the damage to the building. Around sixty per cent of the roof was destroyed by the fire but we have been told it will all need to be replaced.

"The insurance company were here this morning and we’ve got the surveyors due out in the next 10 days to assess the structure.”

Garden Lane Garage has temporarily moved to a much smaller workshop on the Evans Yard site.
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18 dramatic photographs as firefighters tackle blaze in South Shields garage
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The extent of the damage led to owner John Boak, 67, saying at the time that “we are going to be out of business for a while”. At present, the garage is running a much reduced service at a much smaller workshop on the same site.

Alan added: “By the time all the repairs are done there is no way we are going to be fully open this side of Christmas. I think there’s something in the insurance about covering some loss of earnings but I’m not certain exactly what.”

Despite the devastation caused, the family remain positive about the future of the business.

Tip Top Tyres manager Paul Smith said the business is currently having to operate at around 50 per cent capacity.
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Alan said: “We are waiting for confirmation, but the noises from the insurance company are all positive. Everything is looking good in terms of repairing the current building, as we really don’t want to leave the area."

While firefighters restricted the spread of the blaze, the fire in the roof did engulf the adjacent Tip Top Tyres, causing damage to one corner section.

Manager Paul Smith, 40, said: “We’ve done a patch up job on the roof to secure the premises. However there was a lot of water damage to the machinery, meaning we can only currently operate at 50 per cent capacity.

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The aftermath of the blaze at Garden Lane Garage.

"Many of our customers turn up on their lunch break or after work and we are having to turn them away, which is really frustrating.”

While unable to put a figure on the damage, due to ongoing assessments, Paul said it was likely to run into “tens of thousands of pounds”.

He added: “As well as the equipment, we are going to need to replace the alarm and CCTV systems and the roof will need to be repaired. However, we’ve been told it will probably be after Christmas before repairs can start.”

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Business owners and workers stand helpless as the blaze starts to take hold.