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Buff Whelan reopens after massive fire

Nicquel Terry
The Detroit News

Sterling Heights — Deanna Felosak doesn’t know the fate of her husband’s 2014 Corvette after a massive fire ripped through the Buff Whelan Chevrolet car dealership Tuesday night.

The aftermath of a massive fire that destroyed the Buff Whelan Chevrolet dealership in Sterling Heights on July 19, 2017.

Felosak told The Detroit News on Wednesday morning that the dealership had been unable to tell her if the car was damaged in the blaze. The couple dropped the Corvette off Tuesday after it was recalled for an airbag issue.

“We’re going on vacation today and my husband’s all upset,” said Felosak, of Shelby Township. “It was a gift my husband gave himself when he retired from GM.”

Buff Whelan, one of the largest Chevrolet dealerships in the country, is surveying damage and investigating the cause of the fire that destroyed its service center.

Sterling Heights firefighters battle a fire at Buff Whelan Chevrolet on Van Dyke on Tuesday night. Fire crews, with help from Clinton and Shelby townships, tended the blaze, which may have started when floors were being scrubbed, fire officials said.

No one was injured in the blaze, which happened as Tedesco Building Services cleaning crews were working at the facility. The dealership was closed at the time.

Roughly one dozen vehicles are believed to have been in the service center during the fire, said Jack Bos, general manager of Buff Whelan. About 50 cars are believed to have been damaged, overall.

Bos said once the dealership determines what cars were damaged, the owners will be compensated for their losses.

“We will absolutely take care of them all, rest assured,” he said. “Our customers are always number one.”

The new and used car center and sales offices were not affected by the fire and will continue serving customers, he said.

Workers walk past the charred remains of a service bay at the Buff Whelan Chevrolet dealership on Van Dyke Road in Sterling Heights on July 19, 2017.

Buff Whelan has been operating since 1970 and is a family-owned dealership, Bos said. Felosak said the family is well-known in the community.

Kerry Whelan, owner of Buff Whalen, released a statement Wednesday saying she would not have any information on the cause of the fire until after officials complete the investigation.

“We can’t thank enough all of the firefighters and first responders who tirelessly worked throughout the night,” Whelan said. “We don’t know what started the fire, and won’t have any information until the investigation is complete. However, the fire was contained in the service department and thankfully no one was hurt. Our new and used car departments are still open and will carry on with ‘business as usual’.”

She also thanked the employees for their dedication and the community for the “outpouring of concern and support.”