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Classic car storage building fire causes $2M damage


WELD COUNTY, Colo. – A large storage building that houses dozens of classic cars caught fire in Weld County Wednesday morning, damaging or destroying about 70 vehicles, according to one owner.

Investigators, along with ATF agents, were at the site on Lowell Lane near Erie into the evening.

Leonard Johnson, who owned more than half the cars, told 7News Denver, "I've been collecting these for about 32 years and it kind of makes you sick to see them all burned." Johnson said he and another man used a barn turned storage space to house their collections, which he estimated to be worth nearly $2 million.

He told reporters most of the cars lost were vintage Cadillacs and the most expensive car lost was a 1958 Facel Vega worth about $275,000.

"You put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into these cars, and they just mean a lot to you," Johnson said on the scene. "The thing is, they are just objects. I think they're fun, they're good investments, and there are more of them out there."

According to 7News Denver, investigators said they don't believe the fire is suspicious, but the cause is still unknown.

A tenant on the property was working on a car when he heard an explosion in a nearby trailer around 9 a.m. The flames then spread to the barn. Neighbors said the trailer is unoccupied.

Fire crews and officers from Broomfield Police and Weld County Sheriff’s Office were on scene within minutes. The fire took more than two hours to extinguish, in part because of a lack of access to fire hydrants and water sources in the rural area.

Firefighters were able to save at least eight cars. One passerby helped them pushed a black Cadillac out of the way.

Leonard said he plans to build up his collection again. "I'm going to keep doing this for another 10 to 15 years," he said. "I just love it."

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