Ovide will rebuild following Christmas Eve fire

ENGULFED — Fire ripped through the Ovide Used Cars dealership on Christmas Eve. (Photo courtesy of WCSH)

ENGULFED — Fire ripped through the Ovide Used Cars dealership on Christmas Eve. (Photo courtesy of WCSH)

By Gail Geraghty

Staff Writer

A fast-moving fire gutted Ovide’s Used Cars in Bridgton on Christmas Eve, but no lives were lost and, God willing, Ovide says he’ll rebuild and come back better than ever.

“I’ve already had offers from other garages in town to use their space,” said Ovide Corbeil as he stood to one side of his 30-year-old dealership and repair shop on Portland Road with his family at his side. One of his mechanics walked over and joked that the building was leaking, as firefighters sent a steady stream of water into the charred rubble and row of used vehicles.

“Don’t you worry,” Ovide told him, “When we build it back up, it will be square.”

Along with the building, which was insured, the fire destroyed around 15 cars that had been parked along its length. Another 25 or so vehicles parked further away were damaged by the heat. The vehicles included cars being worked on for repairs and others bought by Ovide for resale.

The fire began at 11:46 a.m., as a mechanic was using a saw to cut a strap holding a gas tank in place in a car he was working on inside one of the garage bays. Ovide’s five employees were just about to break for their annual Christmas party when sparks from the saw ignited the gas. The mechanic shouted “fire,” and the flames quickly spread in the oil-soaked bay.

Everyone escaped unharmed, even the two resident dogs that serve as constant greeters for regular customers. Ovide, who drove up to find his business on fire, was initially in shock but quickly drew on his faith, telling reporters that “something good will come of this.”

“It went up very fast — our first truck responded in eight minutes and the entire building was engulfed,” said Bridgton Fire Chief Glen Garland. “There was a lot of gas, paint and tires that certainly contributed to the rapid spread.” Only the left side of the building was left standing, with its outside wall still showing a Christian cross and a sign stating “God is Love.”

Traffic was rerouted to Burnham Road as fire trucks and engines from Bridgton and 10 other towns converged on the scene. Because it was Christmas Eve, and a workday, Garland said most towns were able to only muster a few volunteers to answer the three-alarm fire. It took around an hour to knock down the fire, and firefighters remained on the scene well into the afternoon to dig out any remaining hot spots.

Tankers shuttled water from a hydrant about a half-mile away on Portland Road, and two holding tanks were set up on the highway and in the parking lot of the adjacent state transportation garage.

 

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