‘Like a family member died’: Bob’s Crossroads a total loss after fire

Wantage. “Thirty-eight years of my life went up in smoke in 45 minutes,” said owner Bob Guidone, who escaped with an employee with no time to spare.

| 09 Feb 2021 | 10:50

Bob Guidone said the Jan. 26 blaze at his business, Bob’s Crossroads Service in Sussex, started when the automobile he was working on caught fire. Guidone said he didn’t know what happened.

Michael Restel, Wantage Township administrator, said that, according to Wantage Fire Chief Mark Snook, Guidone and an employee noticed the fire “as they were removing a gas tank from a vehicle.”

The fire department arrived eight minutes after receiving the call. The fire marshal and Guidone agreed that the fire appeared to be an accident, although an investigation is ongoing.

No one was injured, but the property is a total loss. Only cement blocks remain.

Guidone said the fire spread almost instantly. If he and his employee hadn’t left the building when they did, he said, they wouldn’t have made it out alive. Although there were lots of fire extinguishers around, he said using them was like spitting on a bonfire.

“Thirty-eight years of my life went up in smoke in 45 minutes,” Guidone said. “The building was up in flames when the fire department arrived. I can’t eat. I can’t sleep. I got the runs, and I’m shaking like a leaf. I only owned the business. US Oil Co. owned the land and the building, and they’ve been out of the oil business for 14 years. I’m numb. I’m giving myself time to settle down. Then I’ll talk to the insurance company. It’s like a family member died.”

Guidone said he and his wife, Dagmar, raised their kids in town. “They are all good kids,” he said. “They learned the work ethic here. None of them use drugs or alcohol. They now work all over the U.S. I didn’t raise any goofballs. One daughter is 30 years old and a top-notch mechanic.”

Guidone said he lost everything, including diagnostic equipment, lifts, welders, and several larger tool boxes filled with regular and specialty tools. “It’s all gone,” he said. “More than likely, I’ll start over someplace.”

Guidone is 75 years old. He can’t imagine life without his business. He started his auto repair shop in 1975 and moved to 90 County Road 639 in Wantage Township in 1982.

The lead agency on the fire was the Wantage Township Fire Department with fire official Bill Walsh.

Responding departments
Wantage administrator Mike Restel said the following departments and agencies were involved in fighting the fire:
Wantage Fire Department: 3 engines, 3 tankers (including Colesville and Beemerville)
Sussex Fire Department: 1 ladder, 1 engine
Wantage First Aid Squad
Atlantic EMS
Frankford Fire Department: 1 engine, 2 tankers
Branchville Fire Department: 1 ladder
Hardyston Fire Department: 1 ladder
Pochuck Valley Fire Department: 1 engine
Lafayette Fire Department: 1 tanker
Montague Fire Department: 1 rescue (air)
Glenwood Pochuck EMS: special services unit
Sandyston Fire Department: 1 engine (standby in Beemerville)
Greenville Fire Department: 1 tanker (standby in Colesville)
Unionville Fire Department: 1 tanker (standby in Colesville)
Hamburg Fire Department: 1 engine (standby in Sussex)
Wantage Fire Official and Wantage Office of Emergency Management
Sussex County Fire Marshal
Sussex County Sheriff
Sussex County Hazmat
New Jersey State Police
“I can’t eat. I can’t sleep. I got the runs, and I’m shaking like a leaf. I’m numb. It’s like a family member died.” Bob Guidone