Paul LeClair garage fire


Full member
Sad story Paul, luckily you are OK. I had in the 80?s a fire by the neighbours at 3 hours at night and when I woke up I saw flames near my house. It?s a horifyng situation you never forget.
grtz, Ren?


Junior member
Coventry UK
Hi Paul
            What a tragedy. All that  matters really is that nobody got hurt, everything else can be replaced as heart breaking as it may seem. I had a fire scare about five years ago although nothing compared to yours.
Under strict instructions from the wife I went down the garage to fettle her Peugeot 100 scooter for commuting duties after the winter lay off. Obviously the battery was weak and I flooded the thing trying to get it to fire up. Out with the plug, checking for a spark and "whooph" up it goes. In a complete panic I got it out of the garage, grabbed a bucket, filled it from the pond a few yards away and doused the thing in muddy water. Christ, I thought, that's gonna take some explaining to "Her Indoors". Then it just burst into flames again. Off to the pond with the bucket, somehow expecting a different outcome from the same actions, I doused the thing again. Yup, a few seconds later up it goes again, it was all the plastic covers and ducting shit that refused to go out. I'm now doing a Benny Hill impersonation before running to get the hosepipe from outside the house and finally beating it into submission. Sheepishly explaining the situation and promising to get it fixed ASAP she just called me a twat before disappearing back in the house. For all the smoke and flames it only cost about thirty quid on used bits of fleabay to get it sorted. Scary how quickly things turn to shit though. 


Hero member
Hello Paul,
I'm sorry to hear this. I can imagine that such an exotic car (which was built in small series) requires special maintanance and could offer some
surprises. But that it choiced a sudden blow up like this is frightening and hard to bear!

Gues after this you can be thankful that the damages are limited and you're insured, but there was a lot of luck involved for sure. Good that you've
been able to start the repairs already, and, most importantly: stay healthy!



Hero member
Glad damage was somewhat contained Paul, but certainly would have not been fun.
I am always amazed how quick you sort things out. My missus would be most impressed if I managed to get things done as quick as you do :eek:

Paul LeClair

Staff member
phil37 said:
Hi Paul - What terrible luck - i know how awful having a workshop fire is - trying to list all the items for the insurance without missing any is almost impossible. glad to hear you and the bikes were mainly unscathed. Best of luck - Phil

Hi Phil

when the insurance adjuster saw what they were dealing with, they sent a team of three women who were then in the burnt out garage 8 hours a day for 7 days photographing and inventorying and listing all the stuff. I took my own photos as well. Then I had to go over the lists and add all the stuff that they didn't list as they had no idea what some of the stuff was. Amazing how much stuff was packed in the garage, an accumulation of a lifetime. Then there is the stuff that has to be replaced. There are over 600 + items on the "non restorable list" including the big air compressor, oxy/acetylene, welders, work benches and tool boxes and cabinets and on and on.

The biggest challenge will be dealing with replacement of the "non restorable" tools and other items, a lot of the more specialized stuff was sourced from all over the world, insurance initially suggested a 50% cash payout, my response is I want every single item replaced at full replacement value. I have not yet turned my attention to that, the insurance folks are presently working from the non restorable list to establish their own pricing, then I will have to argue any values I may not agree with in relation to any items I cannot replace. I have refused to allow the insurance folks to remove anything "non-restorable" from my property. It is all here in my driveway in a large locked cargo container and not going anywhere until I am a happy camper. ::)

Some of the stuff I am having to replace, I am throwing in extra money of my own to "upgrade' from what I had, like a higher capacity dual stage compressor, that sort of thing. My Handy Lift motorcycle lift was right up against the front bumper of the Bentley when the car burnt down, it is being assessed by an "expert" this coming Friday to determine if the lift mechanism is repairable or is a write off, if written off I am going to toss in the extra funds and go bigger and better as well, "while I am at it I might as well.........." ;)

as for turn around time for rebuild and replacement, I have been "on" the adjuster and other folks involved in a very professional but high expectations way right from the second day. In my professional life I have seen too many of these types of situations grind on for two or three years. I want my life back promptly and to get on to dealing with whatever the motorcycles need and to be able to get back to my hobbies.

No one got hurt. It is just "stuff", mostly replaceable. But, what a bloody disruption......

Paul LeClair

Laverda SF

Hero member
I had a scary moment in my garage regarding FIRE. I was under a 1974 Volvo 240 GTL with a torch and a pressurized plastic gas line ruptured - Luckily I ejected her and dumped her out the back door and shoveled snow under her before she burnt my garage. 

Don't get me wrong the 1974 Volvo 240 GTL, Mechanical Pill Bosh Fuel Injections is one of my favorite cars.

Hi-Pressure Plastic gas Lines are a BOMB - BOOM!

Disconnect the battery and BLEED the gas line before working on.

SHIT Happens - Play safe in your garage and Ride Safe, providing you can afford it and don't kill your self ;o)

At my age, I no longer own a Garage or a Motorcycle ;o(


New member
Not been a good year for you, was it Paul, but you got through it and I really hope that this year all will be well with you? As you say, the garage contents are only bits of metal etc, no-one got hurt but still - a mighty shock and very distressing. Might be good to store the oxyacetylene cylinders well away from any possible source of ignition unless when in use - the stuff makes me nervous at the best of times. Other than that, I cannot really add anything more than others have already said except to say good luck!!


Hero member
Hororata NZ
Petrol stored in the workshop in plastic containers is a bigger fire hazard than oxy acetylene cylinders. It takes a hell of a lot of heat before the plug in the acetylene cylinder breaches.

Paul - the "upgrade post event" syndrome was very evident here post the 2010 quakes. While builder and painters etc were on site doing the approved repairs some extra long delayed projects were done at our expense. Living rural, we at least saved the travel time component of the costs, LOL.
Anecdotally, repair times were extended considerably by the "extras".


Hero member
I'd say it's very lucky you're a lawyer, Paul - makes getting 'their' attention a little easier! I had a rare win with my insurance history - my 19yo daughter put a tiny crack in the screen of the 2 month old Macbook pro we bought her for her uni degree . She'd left her little earbuds on the keyboard and inadvertently (gently) closed the lid. Obviously no warranty from Apple (they give you about 45 seconds coverage!). A$1064 for a new lid-screen from Apple, only a bit cheaper to use an indy repairer (which probably voids what warranty there is left on it).

But rang my house and contents insurers and I'd luckily taken an 'unspecified additional items' extension to the policy (thinking if our nice road bikes ever got stolen while away from home). End of story is they paid $900 towards it (max $1000 per item and only $1200 excess). Definitely one of the more amiable dealings with insurers.

They will be looking at a vastly different sum on your payout, Paul!! We already pay higher premiums in Australia to cover insurers who've had to fork out squillions on bushfire destruction - even though we don't live in high risk areas.

Out of interest, are you SURE you really want another car like that Bentley???  :eek: :eek: :eek: It sounds like everything I despise in lemons (ie crap from birth vehicles).


Hero member
Piranha Brother 2 said:
... rang my house and contents insurers and I'd luckily taken an 'unspecified additional items' extension to the policy (thinking if our nice road bikes ever got stolen while away from home).

Good luck trying to claim vehicles on a home and contents policy. I tried that once on a H&C policy that had all the bells and whistles, only to be told that vehicles and any parts thereof are not considered as 'contents' even if they're kept in the house. You need to take out a vehicle insurance policy, even for a bike that's bolted to the wall as an ornament.

Paul LeClair

Staff member
as for the vehicles in the garage, of the 8 streetbikes (including the three Laverda triples), all 8 were individually registered and individually insured, any damage to any one of them is a separate claim with its own deductible on its own individual policy. The 9th, the Garelli 150 project I was building for use in Moto Giro was not individually insured, and coverage on automotive parts in my house policy has a $2,000 limit apparently. I have not checked for myself on that point yet, but will. I lost a recently reconditioned hybrid battery pack for my wife's Lexus GS 450h which by itself is way over the $2,000 cap, a couple of brand new Odyssey PC 680 batteries, and on and on. Not sure what I will do about the Garelli, it was on the bike lift right up against the Bentley front bumper, the Garelli got pretty cooked, for the costs of replacing individual Garelii parts burnt up/damaged, probably cheaper to buy another complete bike if I can find one. The Garelli is not a current priority for the moment.

not restricting my search for my next project collector vehicle to Bentley/Rolls. Have had two late 80's early 90's Bentley purchase prospects inspected recently, both need way more work than the asking prices justify, I offered what I figured are appropriate prices taking into account required work, got turned down both times. Good luck to them, one of the cars has been for sale for nearly two years, now I know why.

My youngest son Marc was laid off from his sales job at the Jag/Range Rover dealer when CoVid ramped up here, but recently started a job as new and used sales at the local Bentley/Rolls/Aston Martin dealership. Been there less than two weeks, already sold one brand new Bentley convertible, taken a factory build order for a second, and sold three high end used cars, good on him. Long story short, he is trying to convince me to buy a used Aston, we'll see... ;) Not sure yet what his employee discount may be on used vehicles, the dealership appears to take in some really interesting stuff on trade, he very recently had me look at a really wild Mercedes station wagon with a monster motor spec, but someone else bought it before I made a decision. The cool stuff seems to sell really quick, even in the time of CoVid.

about 6 months ago I bought a 1992 Jaguar XJ40 Sovereign from a fellow's estate with 60,000 original kms on it, still on its original 28 year old tires, in nearly brand new condition. I have replaced all four tires with new Michelin Defenders, replaced all the brakes including calipers and discs and hoses etc.. Nice car, British racing green with tan interior, but frankly not in the same league as the Bentley Turbo R for ridiculous opulence or torque or power. I also still have my rust free 1972 Triumph Spitfire Mark IV that my son and I totally rebuilt, runs really well, I upgraded the engine build, brakes, suspension, etc., etc., but it is so small and so low it is getting a little tough for me to get in and out of, especially after the major abdominal surgery in April 2020.

will get this garage fire event sorted, one foot in front of the other each day... :LOL: :LOL: :LOL:

Paul LeClair

p.s. I have been making noises about building a Factory Five Cobra for a couple of decades now, or more recently talking about buying and supercharging a C6 Corvette, lots of options  ;) :) I already had my time owning rebuilding and riding a drum brake SFC 750, not likely to do that particular experience again, too bloody hard on the body unless you are an Italian teenager....


Hero member
Is a factory Five Cobra any relation of the Shelby Cobra or replicants thereof, Paul? I had some machining done at a joint near me and they had two in there being worked on. One had the biggest and hottest motor you can get for a new Mustang in it - 6.5 litres or something insane like that and a supercharger. The guy working on it said it would be a nightmare to drive! Like putting a Hayabusa motor in a 3C?!  :eek: :-* :D


Hero member
Dr?bak, Norway
Have you had any more thoughts about extinguishers Paul. Working in maritime we have regular firefighting courses and onboard supplyships we had monthly drills with different types of equipment. The dry chemical one in the video could be the go, but the molecular level thing is what they say about dry powder. Galleys on boats have to have wet chemical extinguishers for oil fires. It is surprising that the fire flared straight up after the dry powder, even though it just lasted it's short time. That sounds more like it was a chemical fire, which could be what happens when plastics and stuff starts melting together and burning, especially with your synthetic flooring coming into the equation. I have a hand-held foam as well as dry chemical, and a fire blanket in my workshop, hoping to cover the bases. Water-mist (hi-fog) is now available in hand extinguishers. Your fire has got me wondering what might have been the most effective. 


Senior member
Jesus Paul. Thank God your woman stood by her man, your dog didn't get run over and your pickup truck still runs, or it really would have been a shitty year. However if anyone has the fortitude to get through this it is you. When this Covid bullshit calms down and you need a hand let me know and I'll come out to Calgary for a few days.