Fire destroys dozens of vintage motorcycles; owner left to cope with no insurance

By Matt McCutcheon - e-mail | bio

NEW ALBANY, IN (WAVE) - Flames could be seen for miles Tuesday as they danced around the night sky at a warehouse fire on Galt Street in New Albany.

By daylight Wednesday, the damage was becoming more clear.

"I keep thinking it's a nightmare and I'm going to wake up," said an emotional Roger Harper, the owner of the warehouse that was reduced to smoldering rubble.

But it's a reality now for him. Perhaps what makes it all the more painful is the list of burned contents inside - a list that includes dozens of classic motorcycles that were never insured.

"I had stuff from all the way back in the 1800s and just neat, neat stuff," Harper said.

That includes valuable antiques along with the vintage motorcycles and cars, all reduced to skeletons of charred remains and shells of what once were prized possessions.

The huge financial loss is beginning to set in, but Harper says clean-up is his first priority.

"I have a lot of friends that are going to help me," Harper said as he broke down in tears.

Many of them showed up Wednesday, assessing the damage and trying to figure out how to get rid of it.

As if the burning warehouse with its roughly 100 motorcycles and six cars inside wasn't enough for firefighters to deal with, immediately next door sits a blue house where William Kearns has lived for the last 25 years

"I seen the smoke coming out and about that time the firemen came and told us we had to evacuate," Kearns said.

For more than an hour, Kearns watched the flames eat away at the warehouse, thinking his home would be swallowed up next.

"I just knew my house was gone," Kearns said.

Miraculously, his home with its wood siding was spared.

"By the grace of mercy it just scorched mine instead of burning mine," Kearns said.

While the clean-up is just beginning, it's a fire that'll go down with two tales: the man who lost everything, and the man who's everything was spared.

Harper says he was trying to start one of the motorcycles Tuesday when it backfired and quickly spread throughout the former New Albany Truss warehouse.

Harper lives just a few miles from the warehouse. He isn't sure if he'll rebuild.

Copyright 2010 WAVE News. All rights reserved.