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Owners, tenants struggling after fire in Carbon County

Flames sparked by a crash gutted an auto repair business and apartment near Lehighton over the weekend.

LEHIGHTON, Pa. — A business in Carbon County that's been around for nearly six decades was destroyed in a fire over the weekend.

State police believe the fire started after a driver crashed into a telephone pole. Troopers believe the driver was under the influence when he drove down Route 895 and hit a telephone pole, sparking the fire that destroyed McFarland and Sons Garage and an apartment.

The garage near Lehighton has been passed down for three generations, but after and early morning fire Sunday, the family business on West Lizard Creek Road is rubble.

"This was my entire life," said Kyle McFarland. "Words can't describe. It's memories and stuff from my grandfather, and it's just hard. Words can't describe the feeling, you know, tools and stuff can be replaced, but memories can't."

Officials say a driver hit a telephone pole, sparking the fire at the auto body garage.

State police say the 27-year-old man from Whitehall is suspected of driving under the influence.

A family of four who lived in an apartment connected to the garage got out safely.

"It's a total loss," said Troy McFarland. "It's a shame, you know? It's a third-generation going through the business, 58 years."

The owners say while they wait to rebuild the garage, they want customers to know that all their operations have moved across the street to their auto sales building.

"We're looking to rebuild and try to make things just as good, if not better, so that way we can keep serving everybody in the area," Troy said.

The McFarland family is asking customers to be patient while they transition to the auto sales center.

To contact them about appointments, call 610-379-4799.

"A lot of tears have fallen in the last couple of hours. Just a lot of emotions, going crazy. I mean, just trying to figure out the next step is the hardest," said Charles Mest.

The family of four was home when their apartment caught fire. All of them made it out safely. They're staying with a family member and getting help from the Red Cross.

"I went outside to smoke a cigarette, and I walked down the side of the building, and I kind of know the layout. I mean, I'm in here a lot and as soon as I looked through the window like, the whole one side of the office was in flames. So I ran up, yelled for her to get the boys, and said let's get out."

The family's apartment was connected to the shop.

"It's terrible all around and all because of a drunk driver. I mean, his two hours of fun led to the loss of so much."

The family says despite everything they've lost, the community has been nothing but supportive as they look to get back up on their feet.

"It's heartwarming. It's overwhelming all the help. it's been wonderful," said Zuleika Mest. 'The Lehighton community has been great. I mean people that don't even know us, we've never met, and they're just helping us. It feels good."

Fundraisers to help the family in the apartment have been set up on GoFundMe and Facebook.

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