EAST PALESTINE, Ohio (WKBN) – One of the anchor businesses in East Palestine is Brittain Motors, which was started in 1925. The Chevy dealership is now on its third generation of ownership and heading for a fourth.
The train derailment was an experience it will never forget. The dealership reopened Friday in East Palestine. Its buildings were checked Thursday. Everything was fine, despite the fire being so close.
“It was a tough situation for us to look at because there was no realization of what this type of an explosion could have caused and how close it was to getting my business, by the way. It was very close,” Tom Brittain said.
Brittain was at the business Saturday morning watching the fire burn before the evacuation order was announced. He has two other buildings which are closer to the tracks.
The only thing left behind at Brittain Motors was a small residue. It’s already been cleaned up. The derailment site is about a quarter-mile away. The biggest advantage they had here was the wind was always in their favor.
Roughly a dozen cars were in the service shop and stuck there while the evacuation order was in place. Now, it’s just getting back to a routine with customers, appointments, and doing service.
Just another interesting point during Brittain Motors’ history of over 90 years.
“My grandfather back in the early, late 20s, you know they went through the Depression. I mean, that was devastating. This isn’t devastating. This was an accident,” Brittain said.
Cleanup continues, and people will remember this for years. The trail derailment and fire, the explosion and smoke, and now the cleanup. Tom Brittain saw it close-up.
“Just wish you could have got a little closer sometimes to see what it was really like, you know, down at ground zero here, but it was it was quite an experience,” Brittain said.
Brittain was going to come to WKBN on Wednesday to tape another commercial. That was postponed, and the evacuation order was lifted later that day. Now, he’ll be working to reschedule.