The cause of a fire that destroyed two buildings, 10 vehicles and a boat at a Longview used car dealership Wednesday night remained under investigation Thursday evening.
Firefighters from Longview and Cowlitz 2 Fire and Rescue responded to Triangle Motors at 1030 Washington Way around 10:30 p.m. Wednesday. The office building and multiple cars were already burning when firefighters arrived, according to a press release. The fire later spread to the repair garage.
There were no reported injuries. Longview fire and police departments are conducting a joint investigation.
While crews were battling the blaze, several vehicle tires exploded and a fuel tank failed, causing gasoline to spill under a vehicle and ignite the car instantly, according to Longview Fire officials.
Jay Douglas, the business owner of Triangle Motors, told investigators he was in the repair garage when he saw the office building on fire and was able to escape before the fire spread to the repair garage, according to the release.
The fire was extinguished in about 90 minutes but there was extensive damage to the vehicles and the two buildings, which are considered a total loss. There are no damage estimates at this time, Longview Fire Marshal Jim Kambeitz said Thursday.
The two neighboring businesses, Domino’s Pizza and Muchas Gracias, were not damaged, but Domino’s was evacuated during the fire, according to Longview Fire.
Douglas, who also owned the vehicles in the lot, walked with investigators Thursday evening through the charred remains of his business. When asked about the fire, he declined to comment.
Douglas, 56, was out on bail at the time of the fire on child sex abuse charges, Longview Police Cpl. Tim Watson said Thursday. In 2010, Douglas was sentenced to one year in prison for possessing child porn and trying to extort his former defense attorney.
Investigators Thursday said it was too early to say if the fire was related to Douglas’s recent criminal history.
The reader board sign above the car lot said, “Thank you Cowlitz Co. for 36 incredible years.”