Auto shop

GoFundMe was created to help Unadilla Township’s auto shop rebuild after a fire

9:45 a.m. Jan 28: This article has been updated to include comments from the Unadilla Township Fire Department.

Unadilla Township auto repair shop owner John Wilson is still reeling from losing his shop to a fire.

Wilson’s Auto was destroyed in a fire on Wednesday.

“It still hasn’t been registered,” Wilson, 56, said Thursday morning.

“It’s my only source of income and I don’t know what I’m going to do,” he said. “I’ve been knocked down before. I’m just going to do it again. I’m not just going to get hit in the stomach. I’m going to get back on my feet.”

He said he started the business with his father Clyde around 35 years ago. He and his son John Jr. now run the business.

“It’s a family business and she takes care of the family. She feeds us all, the family (of her son) and me,” said John Wilson.

He said he was devastated by the damage but happy no one was injured and the fire did not spread to nearby homes.

Wendy Hause, Unadilla Township Fire Chief, the cause of the fire has not been determined.

“It was a total loss, the content and the structure, the tools and the manuals and all of the above,” Hause said.

She said no nearby property was damaged.

His department received mutual aid from the fire departments of the townships of Putnam and Hamburg, Stockbridge, Dexter and Chelsea. Unadilla and Pinckney Township police, the Livingston County Highway Commission and the Livingston County Disaster Response Team also responded to the scene.

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The store is located at 13250 Hadley Road, near homes in the small rural community outside of Gregory.

The store was badly damaged and the roof collapsed.

A neighbor of Wilson's Auto in Unadilla Township set up a GoFundMe page, shown Thursday, January 28, 2021, after the repair shop was destroyed in a fire.

Andrew Wilczynski, who lives across from the auto shop, was compelled to help out and set up an online fundraiser on GoFundMe.

“I wanted to help him because he works so hard,” Wilczynski said. “He has everything in this business, so I want to help him restart.”

He said Wilson is an honest mechanic.

“I work at a dealership in Ann Arbor, and I know it’s hard to find an honest mechanic, and when you find one, you stick with it.”

He said he witnessed the fire and first responders did a good job protecting nearby properties. He said neighbors were evacuated and vehicles were moved.

The GoFundMe fundraising campaign, at https://bit.ly/3iTDgQr, had raised nearly $2,000 by early Thursday afternoon, within 16 hours of Wilczynski creating the page.

Wilson said he worked in the store and left to get groceries after 5 p.m.

“Basically I was over there working and I finished working and I locked everything up and went shopping at Gregory. Then my brother called and told me the flames were coming out of the top of the garage,” he said.

He says he doesn’t know what caused the fire.

“It happened so fast. All those years of sweat and blood, to see it disappear in a matter of hours was devastating.”

Contact Livingston Daily reporter Jennifer Timar at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @jennifer_timar.