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Devastating fire at automotive shop leads to new friendships

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    Beau Drobot, owner of Drobot Automotive, Jesse Probus of Walnutport, Dr. David Roy, owner of North Whitehall Chiropractic and Josh Haines, owner of Back Home Bagels Deli and Bake Shop met Jan. 9 at the Willow Street Pub, North Whitehall, to recount their heroic efforts to help Drobot save his belongings after a two-alarm fire destroyed his shop Jan. 7. PRESS PHOTOS BY SUSAN BRYANT

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    A Neffs volunteer firefighter uses water from Tower 1631 to extinguish smoldering debris at Drobot Automotive, North Whitehall Township.

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    Yellow caution tape surrounds Drobot Automotive after a two-alarm fire Jan. 7 destroyed the shop. Neffs, Tri-Clover, Greenawalds, Woodlawn, Catasauqua and Whitehall fire departments responded around 11:53 a.m. Jan. 7 for the two-alarm fire. Neffs Fire Chief Jim Steward told The Press on Jan. 9 the cause of the fire is undetermined and remains under investigation. PRESS PHOTO BY SUSAN BRYANT

Published January 20. 2020 01:01PM


In addition to the volunteer firefighters from six companies who responded just before noon Jan. 7 to a devastating two-alarm blaze at Drobot Automotive, 3221 Mauch Chunk, North Whitehall, three individuals have come to the assistance of shop owner Beau Drobot, of Germansville.

Jesse Probus, Dr. David Roy, owner of North Whitehall Chiropractic and Drobot’s good friend Josh Haines, owner of Back Home Bagels Deli and Bake Shop in Schnecksville, met on Jan. 9 at the Willow Street Pub, North Whitehall, to recount the heroic efforts made to help Drobot save his belongings and shop.

Probus, from Walnutport, was at the traffic light at Willow Street and Mauch Chunk heading home after eating at Grumpy’s Bar-B-Que Roadhouse, South Whitehall, when he noticed smoke coming from the automotive shop.

“I ran the red light, pulled into the parking lot and knocked on the door but nobody answered,” Probus said. “The first thing that went through my mind was somebody had passed out holding a cigarette. So I kicked in the door. Flames and smoke immediately started pouring out of the building.

“I honestly thought somebody was on the couch because if you look in the video I took there is a sweatshirt on the couch but nobody was in there.

“I ran around and tried the other doors. I couldn’t get any of the other doors open so I started looking for a hose.”

Probus admitted he panicked a little bit but he decided to start taking items out of the building.

That is when Beau Drobot arrived.

Drobot grabbed personal memorabilia from the office before opening the garage bay door to get his toolbox.

“When we went into the actual garage bay there was this crazy thick smoke coming out,” Probus said, adding he did not know Drobot before the fire.

Drobot did tell him, however, he had been tattooed at Probus’ Sick Ink Studios tattoo shop in Whitehall.

“So many people have reached out to me and thanked me,” Probus stated. “I really don’t feel I need thanks.

“I feel like people should help each other more. I would hope if I was ever in a situation like that people would help me.”

As firefighters were battling the blaze, Probus was transported by ambulance to the hospital and treated for smoke inhalation.

Dr. Roy and his Assistant Office Manager Amanda White were conducting a job interview with a prospective new hire when he received a call from his office manager, Natasha Wassum, about the fire.

“Beau was in his office when I arrived and Jesse was in the garage I think,” Dr. Roy said. “I think Beau had gotten there a minute before I did.

“Beau came out of the office and I asked him if there was anybody in there. I knew he has a dog that normally lives in there.

“He said, ‘no,’ but I could tell he was in shock. I looked at him and said, ‘Beau what do you need to get out of there. Is there anything that is important enough?’”

“He said, ‘Yes my toolbox.’ So me, Jesse and Beau went in there to get his toolbox.

“The three of us were trying frantically and as hard as we could but we could not move that thing at all.”

Haines learned about the fire after his cousin, Mike Vidoni, saw Probus’ video of the fire on Facebook and called him.

“That is when I started calling Beau and calling him,” he said. “I must have called him four times before he answered.

Drobot wasn’t at his shop when the fire started.

“I was over at Park-Mart getting gas when I received a call from Michelle Ritter, owner of Willow Street Pub, that my shop was on fire,” Drobot stated. “I kind of didn’t believe it and said ‘No, shut up.’

“She said ‘No, Beau, seriously your shop is on fire.’”

When he returned to his shop, he immediately went into the office to grab a box of memorabilia, pictures and ripped some pictures off the wall of him and his dad, who had a heart attack at a racetrack and died in 2006.

“When we got that box, stuff was already falling from the ceiling down on us,” Drobot said. “The wall was already in flames.”

When Drobot, Probus and Dr. Roy went into the garage to retrieve Drobot’s toolbox they couldn’t see.

“You couldn’t see your hand in front of your face, but I knew my way through my shop, and I knew where my toolbox was, that was all I wanted,” Drobot said. “Jesse came in behind me and said ‘whatever you need brother,’ so we went in.’ ”

“He had his hand on my shoulder. When we got to my toolbox and looked straight ahead up toward the office area, all you could see was this orange ominous flaming cloud, something I never want to see again.”

He said they got his toolbox but it got stuck in the dirt, he grabbed a chain from his shop and hooked it around the wheels and used his truck to drag it clear across the gravel parking lot.

“It is devastating. Yes, I have my wife, Alison, and my kid, Lillyann, and my dog … but everything I worked so hard for is gone. Everything I owned was in there, I don’t have anything.”

Drobot usually leaves his dog at the shop if he knows he will be coming back but he took him home the night before.

“I will be back on my feet. It isn’t going to keep me down,” Drobot said. “It is going to keep me down a little bit, knock me down for a little bit but I will rebuild. There will be a Drobot Automotive again.

“Working on cars is all I know. All I know is how to build race cars, and how to work on race cars.”



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