Haines Junction’s only full time auto repair shop goes up in flames

Officials are still working to figure out what caused the fire that destroyed Haines Junction’s only full-time auto repair shop last week.

Officials are still working to figure out what caused the fire that destroyed Haines Junction’s only full-time auto repair shop last week.

Meanwhile the community has begun an online fundraising campaign to help the shop’s owner.

Mike Crawshay got the call in the early morning of March 2 that his shop, Kluane Machine, which he built 30 years ago, was on fire.

The neighbour across the street had spotted the flames, he said.

“(I) ran outside with a set of keys … I thought I could go in and open the big set of doors and drive my car out. Maybe save some motorcycles and some tools.”

Instead what he discovered was a “black wall of smoke.” He knew then he couldn’t make it safely into the shop.

The community’s volunteer fire department arrived and started dousing the flames. Crawshay said firefighters were focused on protecting equipment outside of the shop and keeping the flames from spreading.

Going inside was likely too dangerous. Crawshay said he believes nothing could have stopped the flames.

“Propane bottles were going off.… Forget the smoke and the heat, there were bombs going off in there.”

Though the structure was destroyed along with everything inside, firefighters were able to protect equipment that was on the property outside.

A backhoe, for example, was about two metres away from the flames but the firefighters were able to keep it from being seriously damaged.

A Yukon fire inspector and an insurance company agent have already come out to examine the damage, but Crawshay said there is still no word on what caused the fire.

He said he’s lost “every automotive tool that I’ve accumulated over the last 30 years.” There were also two vehicles and two motorcycles inside when the building burned.

The loss of Crawshay’s business means people will likely have to tow their vehicles from Haines Junction to Whitehorse if they want an auto repair shop to have a look.

“There’ll probably be a lot of backyard mechanic work being done,” he said.

The business also did repairs on some Yukon government vehicles as well as Champagne and Aishihik First Nations’ vehicles and vehicles used by staff in Kluane National Park, he said.

A GoFundMe campaign has been started online to help with expenses and to help cover lost income. As of March 7 it had raised about $6,000. It can be found at gofundme.com/kluane-machine-mike-crawshay.

Contact Ashley Joannou at ashleyj@yukon-news.com

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