Man loses car in repair shop fire, building owner disappears

Man loses car in repair shop fire, building owner disappears

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Imagine taking your car to be repaired, only to lose that car after the repair shop goes up in flames.

That's what happened to Scott Brown, whose car was damaged in a fire at the Sandy Run Repair Shop on North Main Street in Columbia earlier this year.

The fire happened back in February, but the scorched building is still standing and so are what's left of Brown's car. His car was towed to Sandy Run Towing just hours before the fire. Brown says he has not gotten any help with the costs.

"I feel like I was thrown out into the cold, actually it's the heat. I feel like I was thrown under the bus in this incident," Brown said.

He says he does not blame Sandy Run Towing for the fire, only how they have handled everything ever since.

"Probably about a year before my grandmother passed away, maybe nine months, she gave me this 2004 Suzuki XL7," Brown said.

Brown says the car held sentimental value but started to have brake issues earlier this year.

"No, I'd never used them. I'd heard of them. I decided to let my friend, who works for Sandy Run Towing, tow this vehicle over to them," Brown said.

Greg Holman, now living out of state, was once a Sandy Run Tow Truck driver.

"He's a friend of mine. So, I picked his car up at work and took it to the shop because he needed front rotors and breaks put on," says Holman.

An expected short visit for Scott's car turned into a much longer stay than expected.

"Our mechanic didn't get to it until right around 5 o'clock, and the brakes were in stock across the street, but not the rotors. We had to wait until the next day, and then that night it burned," Holman said.

"My cousin was watching WIS, and he called me and wanted to know 'wasn't your car at Sandy Run? Don't you know that they burnt to the ground? I've been getting a terrible run around from insurance companies and it seems like no one wants to take the blame," Brown said.

WIS tracked down the repair shop owners, operating a new business just blocks away. Mike Wallace is the co-owner of Sandy Run Towing.

"The insurance company refused to pay us because they say it's a building problem, which would fall under the responsibility of the owner of the builder," Wallace said.

He says he and his co-owner own the repair shop, not the building.

"They're going to have to get it from the owner some kind of way. Her name is Shelia Johnson, she lives in Prosperity. She doesn't have insurance," Wallace said.

Brown says while he did have insurance, "my insurance is with USAA and through them, I only had liability coverage. Since I didn't have full coverage on the vehicle, they really couldn't help me out in any way. I'm going to have to be forced to contact an attorney to recoup what little money I can."

"I can understand their frustration. Believe me. That's why I'm giving them the information, who to go after to take care of whatever they need to take care of," says Wallace.

The city has given notice for the owners to repair the property or secure it. Otherwise, steps will be taken to have the building demolished.

As for the owner, Shelia Johnson, her address in Prosperity is written on the notice from the state posted on the front door. It is the only contact information WIS has been able to find for her.

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