CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- A Christmas morning fire damaged or destroyed more than a dozen businesses in Midlothian.
A passerby reported the fire at the Hull Street Road Business Center, located in the 3700 block of Hendricks Road, just after 7 a.m. Monday, according to Chesterfield Fire and EMS Assistant Fire Chief John Boatwright.
John Dodson was one of 14 business owners who rented space in the center for his vintage car and motorcycle restoration business.
"We were opening Christmas presents this morning and the landlord called my cell phone," Dodson said. "She said there had been a fire and we should come up and inspect for damages."
Dodson estimated he lost tens of thousands of dollars worth of equipment in the fire.
"I lost a lot of money," he said. "Years of collecting really good, top brand, American made equipment."
When firefighters arrived, they found heavy flames and smoke showing from at least one of the businesses, according to Boatwright.
"The fire was worse than I imagined," Dodson explained. "I didn’t think it would be quite this devastating. Firefighters are declaring this a total loss and expect it to be demolished."
Dodson said that the winter season is prime for business since his customers like to enjoy their vintage vehicles during upcoming warmer months.
"This is where my passion is. I wake up and go to bed everyday thinking about cars and motorcycles," he said. "We are going to make it. We are fighters."
Thankfully, Dodson has insurance that will help him recover some of the cost of the damaged equipment.
Because of several issues with chemicals in multiple businesses, firefighters handled the fire just like it was a second-alarm fire.
They also used a damming and diking process to make sure no chemicals made it to nearby storm drains.
It took nearly an hour and a half to mark the fire under control.
The Fire Marshal is investigating the cause of the fire.