By: Sophia Hernandez | WCTV Eyewitness News
July 8, 2019
BAINBRIDGE, Ga. (WCTV) – Sunday evening, a fire engulfed a Bainbridge favorite, Decatur Auto Parts. The cause to the fire is still unknown, but as Bainbridge Public Safety investigate what caused the blaze, owners gathered Monday at the site to mourn the loss of their store.
The town favorite once stood tall, but is now rubble.
Manager of the Auto Shop Jimbo Godwin shares, "It's devastating this is my life you know home away from home."
Godwin was on his way to Orlando when he got the life-changing call.
"It was devastating," he said. "I have been working here since I was 16. I grew up in this business so it's kind of heartbreaking to not have anything to come to this morning."
The loss is tough for every employee, including Assistant Manager Jason Davis.
"It's like I leave Friday and it was here and to come back and see it like this. It's just, I don't know, crazy," said Davis.
Russell Carlisle, the owner of the Machine Shop, expresses what it was like to see his second home, in a blaze.
"Bewildered and disbelief and you always say it won't happen to me until it does," Carlisle said.
Carlisle only owned the machine shop for six months but had worked there for 35 years.
"Decatur Auto Parts, I hate to call it an icon but it's just where everybody knew and everybody went and there was," Carlisle starts counting, "155 years of experience in that one building."
The store, Carlisle says, was a favorite by those who visited the shop almost daily, "I told my wife I hate it for us but I sure hate because I had some good customers. I had some awful good customers and I enjoyed doing the work for them and they enjoyed me doing their work and we had a good relationship."
The store opened its doors in 1974 across the street from its current location, where it set up shop in 1976.
Doyle Welch, Chief of the Bainbridge Fire Safety describes the scene as, "Total loss. I don't think there was nothing saved a few trophies and a few pictures they got but you can see the devastation inside here."
But owner Carlisle has hope, and is taking it day by day.
"I promise you this didn't catch the Lord by surprise," Carlisle said. "It may have caught us by surprise and if he brought us to it, he'll bring us through it."
The duo, assures their customers, they will be up and running once more.