By Carey Phillips

A fire Saturday afternoon damaged Hillman Family Automotive on Skyland Drive.

The Sylva Fire Department responded to the call just after 1 p.m. Departments from Cullowhee and Savannah provided mutual aid.

“It caught on fire in the bays,” Sylva Fire Chief Mike Beck said. “Thankfully there were no cars in it.”

Beck said the cause is believed to be spontaneous combustion.

“It did several thousand dollars worth of damage to equipment,” he said, mentioning specifically a tire machine, air conditioning machine and welding equipment.

The business was closed at the time. A Sylva Police officer responding to a burglar alarm discovered the blaze, according to Beck.

Firefighters were on the scene for about 90 minutes.

In a Facebook post, Ben Hillman of Hillman Family Automotive said:

“It is with a heavy heart that I report to you that we had a major fire inside the bay areas Saturday afternoon. We lost almost all of our tools and equipment, and the entire interior suffered severe smoke and heat damage. No one was hurt and none of our customers’ cars were damaged. If you have an appointment with us, we will be in touch with you. Thankfully our new building is almost done. This week we are going to be working very hard to have another waiting area and the new building ready for service by Monday the 30th of June. I want to thank the Sylva Police Department for noticing the smoke early on in the fire, it could have been so much worse if they had not acted quickly! Thank you so much. Also thank you to the Sylva and surrounding fire departments who responded to the fire and got it under control swiftly. I don’t know how we will repay your volunteer services!”

The new building Hillman referred to is being built adjacent to the current site, Beck said.