STERLING HEIGHTS, Mich. – The smoke has finally cleared at Buff Whelan Chevrolet in Sterling Heights, but what's left behind is a mess.
The four-alarm fire at the dealership destroyed its award-winning service department and burned up 20 customer cars. Those customers are a little nervous about what's next.
The dealership has been in Sterling Heights for decades, but now there's a lot of rebuilding to do. Some customers are stressed out about what's in the small print when they leave their car for a service appointment.
Firefighters said the flames burned for hours. Among the cars torched in the mess was LaKanta Powell's 2014 Chevy Impala, which she had almost finished paying for.
"Last night I was watching the news and saw this blazing alert that said fire at Buff Whelan," Powell said.
Powell went to the dealership Tuesday night to see if she could get word on her car, but there was just too much going on. She returned again Wednesday and was initially told her Impala wasn't affected, but it turns out it was.
"It's unrecognizable," Powell said. "It's burned out pretty bad on the driver's side on the front of the vehicle. The back of the vehicle from the hat is crushed in."
The dealership immediately gave Powell a loaner car to use indefinitely, but she's stressed that the fine print on her service agreement says the dealership is "not responsible for damage due to fire and other calamities."
But the dealership doesn't want its customers to worry. If its insurance doesn't cover the costs, Buff Whelan said it will need some time to take a breath and try to regain some equilibrium.