Furnace May Be To Blame In Bristow Fire

Friday, December 5th 2008, 5:41 pm
By: News On 6

By Dan Bewley, The News On 6

BRISTOW, OK - Investigators may now know what caused a fire that wiped out a landmark business in Bristow.  Investigators believe a mechanical problem with a furnace may have caused a fire that destroyed a Bristow car dealership.  Bolin Ford went up in flames on Thursday afternoon, reducing a part of the city's history to ashes.          

The fire only took a few hours to tear through the dealership.  From the Model-T to the F-150, the bricks and mortar at 10th and Main have long been a staple in Bristow's history.  Heads were turning and pictures snapped for a keepsake as onlookers in Bristow focused on what's left of Bolin Ford.

"It means my livelihood.  It means the livelihood for a lot of people," said Bolin Ford co-owner Kathy Witsotsky.

Kathy Witsotsky's father and grandfather have owned the dealership since 1959 and watching Thursday's fire was one of the hardest days of her life.

"It's terrible.  It makes me sick.  It makes me sick," said Bolin Ford co-owner Kathy Witsotsky.

The complex is actually three separate buildings.  The newest part is what burned and is where most of the day-to-day business was done.

"It's been there ever since I can remember," said Bunny Baker of Bristow.

Bunny Baker has been keeping track of Bristow history nearly all of her 83 years.  She remembers the Bolin building as a popular stop for anyone who wanted to get on four wheels

"That was the only car dealership, I think, in Bristow for a long time.  Everybody bought their cars there," said Bristow's Bunny Baker.

It started in 1923 with the Bristow Motor Company as a service station and selling the Ford Model T.  You can still see the rails in the garage that were used as a pulley system to piece the Tin Lizzie's together right here on sight.

The next building came in 1927 selling Buicks and Pontiacs.  Inside you can see the original tin ceiling.

"We had tin ceilings in every building and we were restoring the middle building.  We had just started that process," said Bolin Ford co-owner Kathy Witsotsky.

The complex has had a front row seat for history going on nine decades.  The Bolin's came along in the 50's and the family says Thursday was only a setback.       

"We've been here for 50 years as of next year and we'll keep going," said Bolin Ford co-owner Kathy Witsotsky.

The official cause of the fire still won't be determined for several weeks, but again investigators believe a mechanical issue with the furnace is to blame.

The Christmas parade that was canceled last night because of the fire has been rescheduled for next Thursday night.

Related Story:

12/04/2008  Bristow Ford Dealership Up In Flames