|Fire damages Cozad antique collection|
|May 23, 2013 Jerry Purvis|
Photo by Lisa Betz/Gering Citizen - Property owner Tom Cozad points to bubbling on the fender paint on one of his classic automobiles.
Early Sunday morning, an electrical short in a light fixture and the resulting fire caused extensive damage to Tom Cozad’s historic Ford Garage in Gering.
Cozad said the fire started in the main display of the garage, where several antique cars were housed. The ceiling caught on fire and spread to the room above, where a vast collection of Coca-Cola memorabilia was on display.
“There was pretty extensive damage to three of the Model A’s that were in there,” Cozad said. “There was heat and smoke damage to the Coke display on the second floor. It was contained to that main part of the building, other than smoke and water damage throughout the rest of it.”
The Cozads, who live in the north half of the building, were awakened about 12:30 a.m. on Sunday. Two people who were driving by on 7th St. saw the fire and called 911. The Gering Police Department was the first on the scene and awakened the Cozads. The Scottsbluff Fire Department’s Tower 1 unite evacuated them from their second floor apartment. Donna Cozad said they were lucky to be alive, as the bedroom was filled with smoke when they awoke.
For several years, Cozad’s Garage has served as the finish line for the final day of the Sugar Valley Rally. “The Sugar Valley Rally will still finish here on June 2,” he said. “Part of the building will be open for people to tour, but the area of the fire will be closed off. It’s going to take a lot of time to reconstruct that section of the building.”
The Scottsbluff Fire Department, as well as Scottsbluff Rural Fire Department, provided mutual aid assistance for the Gering Fire Department.