Colonial Heights service garage fire ruled arson - NBC12 - Richmond, VA News

Colonial Heights service garage fire ruled arson

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Source: Colonial Heights Fire Department Source: Colonial Heights Fire Department

The search is on for an arsonist responsible for a fire that took just hours to destroy what one family spent decades building. The fire decimated the Wamsley Auto Center but owners vow not to let one criminal's actions keep them from rebuilding. Police are also piecing together the role of a car stolen from the scene -- now evidence after being recovered in Petersburg.

The building is a loss. That fire was so massive it reached several aerosol containers and ammunition inside of the building causing loud booms neighbors could hear overnight. The scene slowed down traffic on The Boulevard for hours.

Owners arrived Thursday morning to see their business of 31 years in ruins.

"I mean this was all we had," said David Wamsley.

He got word his father's business was consumed by flames so he quickly showed up, but that's not the only thing he noticed. Owners noticed one car was missing and they believe someone tried to make off with another one because it was dragged away from the parking lot leaving a trail of skid marks.

Later, investigators found the stolen gold Ford Focus at an apartment complex in Petersburg.

 "It's a little too close too home. A lot of stuff has been going on in Colonial Heights lately," said Pam Melvin.

She lives next door and started recording the flames with her cell phone just after 4 AM.

"It's a shame that somebody's got to do that. If they're going to break into something, take what you want but don't destroy their livelihood," Melvin said.

On top of the building being a loss, so is much of the owners' property. When part of the building collapsed, it landed on two cars parked on site.

"Then two more got completely burnt up and a couple with a little bit of damage," Wamsley said.

As investigators search for a suspect, Wamsley has a message for whoever's caused this family a whole lot of pain.

"Obviously you're scum and you have no life," he said.

Now his family's life is focused on rebuilding after a crime they never saw coming.

Officers found the stolen car on South Crater road hours after getting the fire under control.

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