By Ross Guidotti

CORAOPOLIS (KDKA) – A car wash in Coraopolis was destroyed by a three-alarm fire early Monday morning.

According to officials at the scene, the fire broke out around 1:40 a.m. in the 800-block of Fifth Avenue.

Six companies were called in to battle the blaze, which was still going strong at 3 a.m.

The fire was both intense and destructive as it destroyed two businesses in a matter of minutes. As a result, two men are out of work after more than three decades.

“It was like, get out now. I ran in, grabbed my grandson out of the crib and we were just running out the door,” Darlene Youngworth said.

The building also housed an auto repair shop in the basement and a laundromat. There were chemicals inside the building, which created an explosive situation for firefighters.

“We did hear some explosions fighting the fire. There were some things that blew up. We had no men in the building – pretty much an exterior operation and no one was injured,” Coraopolis Fire Chief Larry Byrge said.

By daylight, the fire was out. The owner of the auto body shop was too upset to talk on camera, but said many of his customers over the last 38 years stopped by to offer support.

Mel Gib, 72, is the owner of the laundromat and car wash. He salvaged what he could from his 38 years of pride and hard work.

The building is a total loss and finding the cause may be nearly impossible given the level of destruction.

Nevertheless, the Allegheny County fire marshal is continuing its investigation.

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