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1 person injured in Midland Ave. fire; explosion started blaze

A pre-dawn fire Thursday sent one man to the hospital and destroyed an auto repair and body shop on Midland Avenue.

Firefighters responded to a fire about 5 a.m. at the Downtown Garage across from the Herald-Leader building in the 100 block of Midland Avenue. An employee at the garage was repairing the fuel tank of a vehicle when a flash fire occurred, Lexington Fire Battalion Chief Marshall Griggs said.

The employee and two others who had been inside the building escaped before the fire spread. The employee, who was not identified, was sent to University of Kentucky Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, Griggs said. His condition was not available.

At least 19 pieces of emergency equipment, including two ladder trucks, blocked Midland as firefighters fought the fire in its early stages. Firefighters used the roof of a building next door to put water on the back of the fire, which caved in the roof at the repair business. The fire destroyed three vehicles inside the building, Griggs said.

Crews closed Midland from Main Street to Winchester Road for about three hours while they doused the fire and cleaned up the road. Firefighters reopened the street about 8:15 a.m.

The owner of the building and his tenant stood outside the charred shell of the garage as firefighters swept debris.

Kenny McKinley, who has owned the building for about 30 years, said he will probably demolish the structure.

"It's pretty far gone," he said. "Until I talk to my insurance company, I'm not going to worry about it too much."

Daniel Garcia had just opened Downtown Garage about six months ago. He plans to reopen the garage, which was his first business.

"I always wanted to have a business, and I found a place, and I had the possibilities to do it," he said as he began to cry.