Phoenix Garage: Rebuilding Bubble Tech HQ From The Ashes

What Happened?

Where do I even begin. Just a heads up there will be a lot of photos and they make me sick to my stomach so view at your own discretion. 

On Saturday February 28 I got a call around 6:45am from my brother saying the shop caught fire last night. He told me to google it as he got ready to head to the shop to check it out. As I search "XXX Fire" I was praying to myself it was a different address. I click the first link and began to read as my heart dropped.
**Street names and Fire/rescue squad township names have been remove to keep location disclosed**

Multiple fire units were dispatched to a structure fire at XXX RD that destroyed much of the building here Friday, Feb. 27.

Unconfirmed radio reports indicate the fire was called in around 6:20 p.m. to the site near XXX Drive. Those same reports indicate it was called in as a working fire, but no one was inside the building.

The fire was upgraded to a second alarm, with the Tanker Task Force South being activated. Unofficial dispatches indicated XXX Road was closed near XXX Drive.

Firefighters ran a five-inch hose for over 700 feet from XXX Way to the engine on the street in front of the address. Tankers were also “dropping” water into two portable ponds to also feed XXX Township’s Engine 21. From there another five-inch hose ran over 400 feet up the driveway to feed XXX Engine and XXX Township’s Tower Ladder 32, both of which were set up at the building that was on fire.

The tanker fill site was also set up at XXX and XXX Way.

The structure appeared to be a storage building according to a witness at the scene. Measurements made in Google Maps indicate the building is over 300 feet long and about 40 feet wide, approximately 100 feet of it had been consumed by the fire. There is also another building right next to it about the size of a small house.

Fire crews from XXX Township Fire Company, XXXFire Department, XXX Fire Company, XXX Volunteer Fire Company, XXX Borough Volunteer Fire Company, XXX City Fire Department, XXX Volunteer Fire Company, XXX Fire Company, along with the XXX County Fire Coordinators, XXX Township Police and the XXX Rescue Squad responded.

Fire units were on the scene until around 10:35 p.m.

Scrolling through the pictures only confirmed it had been my shop. I sat there helplessly as I was in Minnesota on vacation.

Shortly after I received another call from my brother, "Its gone. All of it" followed by these images.

The next few hours/days I took it fairly well. It's just "stuff" right? It's all replaceable, I was happy no one was hurt nor did any firefighters enter the building. At the end of the day I still had a roof over my head.

I looked into getting a flight out sooner but due to weather delays I wasn't able to return home until Monday night. On my last day in Minnesota reality was starting to set in and I began to wonder am I really okay or were things just okay because I was avoiding it all? I began question what I was going to do, I lost almost everything I own, my shop and my job. Reality began setting in, how would I ever be able to afford a new space? Even if I DID accomplish that, buying another car AND acquiring all the tools and machinery again seemed impossible. For the first time, I broke.

I finally made it home and the following morning made it out to the shop. Driving down the road I saw all the fire/police/rescue vehicles parked along the side of the road. As I began to slowly creep up the driveway I kept stopping hesitant to see the building around the bushes. Finally peering over the bushes I saw from the corner of my eye my neighbors house. This once massive building was left to nothing more then a foot or two of rubble. I immediately began shaking and felt like vomiting. Reality had finally set in, I refused to think it was all gone and though I could salvage some things. I didn't care what it was, I was hoping I'd have at least a wrench or screw driver, just something so I wasn't left with nothing. I went straight to the trailer office since most of the things I stored there would be effected by the elements as It had snowed the day prior. My inventory of plush pistons and lanyards seemed to be okay.

I was then pulled away by the lead detective to answer a few questions and hear what they thought was the cause of the fire. The fire was declared unknown but they believe it was the wood burning stove that cause the fire. They believe the chimney pipes were backed up and created a back fire which burned back out. The irony of this is we have been using the wood burning stove since Nov/Dec and earlier this week we disassembled the chimney to clean it all out and rand two creole logs to clear the pipe out. Since then it was running the best it ever had, maintain a good flow drawing in air and exhausting smoke. That day the fire was put out at 3pm before the shop was vacant, in addition all vents were closed and we always put a cinder block in front of the stove as a precaution. If the shop is vacant ALL the circuit breakers are turned off except for one, which has the fridge pulled into it along with a tv, dvd player, microwave and speakers. Did the wood burning stove start the fire? I don't know but I'm skeptical about it. Either way it doesn't matter, it's the past. Whatever it was, I don't care, it wouldn't change anything. Please don't ask me any questions about this, they will be ignored.

After the brief questioning I was finally left alone. I began just staring at what was left. It was cold and felt like a war zone of a building that had just been bombed. The air was tainted with the smell of burnt rubber and smoke. This is all that's left.

Whats next?

I've actually had this as my phone wallpaper for months, how appropriate!

I've actually had this as my phone wallpaper for months, how appropriate!

Well at the age of 26, this is a bit too overwhelming for me. Needless to say, I'll be laying low for a while. What most people don't know is the "shop" is actually located on a piece of land that we just purchased that has a house on it as well. It's all in rough shape, we did the best we could to get the orginally-used-chicken-coups to a decent workspace to get us through the winter. Next month we were suppose to begin renovating the house so I could officially move in as we put our current home on the market. Unfortunately 95% of my tools were in the shop and I'm left with the handful of tools that did not make it to the new shop (one being my CNC Router, thankfully I ran out of time as it was suppose to make its way there before I left for my trip). With that said, the house/land/shop was purchased recently and we were in the process of getting insurance but the paperwork was not in place yet. Along with the 7 cars, only one was fully insured as most of them were project cars that haven't seen the road in years or just acquired cars that were just getting ready to be driven again.

I can not make any promise as I don't want to let anyone down or falsely advertise but I do intend to bring Bubble Tech back. However this is a huge uphill battle for me and I can not guarantee it will all work out. I'm going to be taking a break as it's still snowing here and making cleaning up twice as hard. It will be a slow rebuild as I need to take care or transitioning my living situation and while I juggle trying to rebuild the shop and release parts.

How you can help


First off I don't expect anything. Everyone's support has been more than enough.

Secondly, at the end of the day, everything is replaceable. No one was hurt, and I still have a roof over my head. If you would like to contribute in any way, from the bottom of my heart I thank you. But please only do so if you are in the position to.

There are a few ways you can help:

  • If you have any connections or contacts to Tool Manufacture reps such as Dewalt, Bosch, Milwaukee, JD2, JMR, Hobart, Harbor Freight, Eastwood, Enco, etc, Please email me
  • If you're in the Hunterdon County (Central NJ) area and have connections to dumpster companies/heavy equipment that can aid in the clean up and trash removal
  • If you're in the NJ area and want to company me in snowboarding and not talk about cars.
  • Make a purchase - Whatever is listed on our site should be in stock as everything is still stored at my residence - However ship times may be delayed as some of my packaging supplies were lost in the fire
  • Make a donation- I'm very uncomfortable with option as I do not like taking others money without giving them anything in return, however I'll co-operate due to a bunch of re-quest. Currently there is a Gofundme account set up in my name however they take 5% so I opened up a YouCaring account. Either one is fine however the YouCaring site is preferred. I ask that if you make a donation to please include your name, I want to be able to thank every individual in some way. 

I'll be updating where the money from the donations go towards as time progresses. Currently all funds will go towards renting a dumpster to discard all the debris.

Once again I'd like to thank everyone from the bottom of my heart.
With everyone's support it has made it much easier to decide to keep fighting.

Benjamin Mui2 Comments